The Bombay High Court on Thursday, 23 February, quashed the Enforcement Directorate's (ED) Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) against former Jet Airways director Naresh Goyal and his wife Anita.
The court set aside the 2020 ECIR and all proceedings, actions and investigation related to it because of it being "illegal" and "contrary to law."
Note: The ECIR is the ED equivalent of a police FIR.
The case: The ECIR, based on a FIR filed in 2020 by Akbar travels, alleged that the Goyals had cheated the Mumbai-based travel company of over Rs 46 crores.
The company, in its complaint, said they have been doing business with Jet Airways since 1994, and when the company ran into a financial crisis, Goyal had assured that the travel agency wouldn’t suffer losses.
The agency sold Manchester-Mumbai flight tickets on cheaper rates on the assurances of the accused, the complainant said.
But when in January 2019, many Jet flights got cancelled and they were given the assurance that they would be refunded. However, the payment defaulted, the travel agency said.
Based on this, the FIR booked both the Goyals under offences of cheating, criminal conspiracy and forgery of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Police says no substance in criminal complaint: However, the police filed concluded in 2020 that no substance in the criminal complaint had been found and the dispute was civil.
The Metropolitan Magistrate Court supported this and despite the ED's opposition, the Supreme Court too upheld this.
The Goyals Challenge ECIR: Following this, the Goyals had moved the High Court and asked for the quashing of the ECIR since no criminal offence had been made out.
ED opposes: Over the course of hearing the plea, the ED opposed this on 22 February and argued:
“ECIR can never be quashed. It is not a statutory documentary and a simple paper. If we want to initiate a civil case, then ECIR helps. You cannot equate ECIR with FIR. What happens to the other actions that I have taken basis the ECIR, like recording statement of witnesses, what happens to that?”
The court was however, not impressed with these arguments and proceeded to quash the ECIR.
(With inputs from Bar and Bench)