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Kerala Kaumudi Online
Saturday, 18 May 2024 6.36 PM IST

Legal proceedings and asset recovery in Karuvannur case: Investors await relief

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From the time the police recover the mainour, after the investigation, trial and court proceedings are completed and returning it to the owner takes time. Similarly, in the Karuvannur Co-operative Bank fraud case, investors are concerned about the assets confiscated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) from the accused. The investigation by the ED and the Income Tax Department is ongoing. By the time the court proceedings are completed, including the purpose of the investment in the bank, such as financing children's marriages and expert treatment for parents, the needs will be over!

The affidavit submitted by the ED in the trial court yesterday stating that there is no legal impediment to returning the property and money of 108 crores seized in the case to the defrauded investors is a relief to those who are worried. An investor named Mahadevan, who had a total deposit of Rs 75 lakh in Karuvannur Bank, now has to receive Rs 33,27,500 from the bank. The money stolen from the investors was not kept in cash by the accused; it was invested in various sectors, including real estate. Including these, the ED confiscated properties worth Rs 108 crore from 54 accused. Therefore, even if the investigating agency says there is no legal bar to return the lost money to investors, there are many strings attached, including the auction of seized assets. This is the next concern of investors.

The 2019 amendment to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) has provided for refunding money to victims from confiscated property. Under this provision, trial courts have the power to do so. The court can take necessary action even at the trial stage of the case if it is aware of the need of any investor to return the money. The trial court has to decide the auction proceedings. While all defrauded investors are fully entitled to their money back, the personal needs to be met with that money may not be the same.

Those with irreplaceable needs, such as treatment and surgery for family members or expenses related to children's marriages, should receive humanitarian consideration and priority. Investors also expect humanity from the trial court, not only in avoiding as much as possible the delay naturally required for the auction process but also in preparing a priority list of those who should get the money back first after assessing the importance of the demands. Although it is impossible for the court to compromise in any way on the legal procedures of a complex case, there is a saying of justice that ultimately laws are for human beings. That is the hope of investors.

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