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SC stays Bombay HC order quashing LRs issued in Adani coal import case

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court revived on Wednesday the probe against a Adani group firm in a case of alleged overvaluation of Indonesian coal imports by staying the Bombay High Court’s decision of quashing all letters rogatory (LRs) sent by the DRI to Singapore and other countries.

Letters rogatory are sent to investigative or judicial agencies in other countries when some information is required during a probe of off-shore entities.

“We are staying the order of the High Court,” the bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde, Justice B R Gavai and Justice Surya Kant said while refusing the plea of the Adani Enterprises Ltd (AEL) that the matter be heard on a short notice without staying the October 18, 2019, HC order.

The top court issued notice to the Adani Enterprises and asked it to reply within two weeks on an appeal filed by Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI).

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that if the high court order is not stayed, it would be used as a law which will govern in all DRI investigations.

“Kindly stay the order as this law laid down (by high court) prevents me from collecting evidence,” Mehta said opposing the plea of senior advocate Vikram Nankani and advocate Mahesh Agarwala, appearing for Adani, who were seeking a week’s time to give short reply to DRI’s plea.

The high court had quashed all letters rogatory (LRs) sent by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) to Singapore and other countries in its probe of Adani group firms for alleged overvaluation of Indonesian coal imports.

The court had said that it did not go into the merits of LRs issued by a metropolitan magistrate but found that due procedure had not been followed while issuing them.

In September, AEL approached the high court seeking to quash the LRs, issued in 2016.

In March 2016, the DRI initiated a probe against a few Adani group firms for alleged overvaluation of coal imports from Indonesia between 2011 and 2015.

LRs were issued to Singapore, Dubai and Hong Kong, seeking help to access documents lying with overseas branches of three state-owned banks relating to transactions under the probe.