Coal imports case: SC to hear in February DRI’s appeal against Bombay HC order quashing LRs

 The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear in February next year a plea moved by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) challenging a 2019 Bombay High Court order that quashed the letters rogatory sent to Singapore and other countries during its probe involving Adani Group firms for alleged overvaluation of Indonesian coal imports.

The top court is likely to consider a fresh rejoinder filed by the DRI in the case.

On October 17, 2019, the high court had quashed all the letters rogatory (LRs) sent by the DRI to Singapore and other countries in its ongoing investigation against the Adani Group firms for alleged overvaluation of Indonesian coal imports.

Hearing the appeal file by the DRI in January 2020, a bench headed by then Chief Justice S A Bobde had issued notices to Adani Enterprises Limited (AEL) and others.

“Until further orders, there shall be interim stay of operation of the impugned final judgment and order dated October 17, 2019 passed by the high court,” the bench had then said.

Hearing the DRI’s appeal, the top court took note of the submissions made by the additional solicitor general that certain questions were framed by it in another case and some of those would be relevant while deciding the present appeal against the high court order.

“Hence, we direct that this special leave petition shall be heard alongwith SLP (Crl) No. 4821 of 2023. Both the matters be placed before the appropriate Bench,” a bench of Justices A S Oka and Pankaj Mithal had ordered on October 10.

Now, both the matters will be heard together on February 6, 2024.

In its order, the high court had said it had not gone into the merits of the LRs issued by a metropolitan magistrate, but found that due procedure was not followed while issuing those.

LRs are sent to investigative or judicial agencies in other countries when information is required during a probe involving offshore entities.

The high court had allowed a writ petition filed by AEL, challenging the DRI’s action of getting the LRs issued.

“The action of the respondents in giving effect to the letters rogatory issued by the learned metropolitan magistrate, Mumbai … cannot be sustained and it deserves to be quashed and set aside,” the high court had ordered.

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“We make it clear that we have not gone into the merits of the letters rogatory issued by the magistrate,” it had said.

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.

The 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.

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