There has been a sharp uptick in the number of cases filed by the Enforcement Directorate against Opposition leaders since the BJP-led NDA government assumed charge at the Centre in 2014, an analysis of data collected by The Indian Express from court records, agency statements and reports of politicians booked, arrested, raided or questioned by the agency shows. According to the data collated for the past 18 years, as many as 147 key politicians were probed by the agency during the period, of which 85 per cent were from the Opposition.
As per IE investigation, 121 political leaders have fallen under the ED scanner since 2014 with as many as 115, or 95 per cent of them, being from Opposition ranks. The figures show a sharp contrast to the agency’s action during the UPA regime between 2004 and 2014 when 26 political leaders, which included 14 from the Opposition, faced ED action.
Also Read: Opposition leaders in CBI net: 95 percent under NDA, 65 percent under UPA
The sharp uptick in the number of cases being registered by the central probe agency is primarily attributed to the strengthening of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) since its implementation in 2005. The law, armed with stringent bail conditions, grants ED the powers to arrest, attach properties and assets of the accused and get a statement recorded before an investigating officer admissible as evidence in court.
The ED’s playbook before and after 2014 mirrors that of the Central Bureau of Investigation. A separate analysis of data sourced by The Indian Express showed on Tuesday that of the 200 prominent political leaders that the CBI acted against since 2004, over 80 per cent were from the Opposition. As per the IE report, of the 72 political leaders probed by the CBI lens between 2004 and 2014, 43 or 60 percent of them were from the Opposition.
On the contrary, of the 124 political leaders who fell under the CBI lens post 2014, at least 118 of them (95 per cent) were from the Opposition.
Meanwhile, an ED official who spoke to The Indian Express categorically denied any political bias in the actions undertaken by the agency against political leaders.
“The ED is the last agency you can accuse of political bias as it cannot register cases on its own. Only after a politician is booked by a state police or any central agency can the ED register a case of money laundering. We are also probing many BJP politicians. A fresh case against Gali Janardhan Reddy was initiated after the Modi government came to power,” the officer argued, adding that the agency registers cases only after proper scrutiny.
“All our chargesheets are being taken cognizance of by the courts. The accused are unable to secure bail because courts are not convinced of their innocence,” he added.