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Don Sridhar’s daughter in trouble over Rs 19 cr assets in her name
The Madras High Court has refused to quash proceedings under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against the daughter of late Sridhar Dhanapal, nicknamed ‘Kancheepuram don’, in connection with the alleged ill-gotten wealth worth Rs 19 crore.
During its investigation, the Enforcement Directorate identified five immovable properties in the name of Sridhar, 68 immovable properties in the name of his wife Kumari, 10 immovable properties in the name of his daughter Dhanalakshmi (the petitioner), apart from the immovable properties purchased in the name of the other accused.
It was contended that Dhanalakshmi cannot be prosecuted under the PMLA for the alleged sins of her father, as she did not know that her father had acquired the assets in her name with the proceeds of crime and that she is a student, born in 1994.
Pointing out that the 22 FIRs against Sridhar’s name relate to cases of physical violence, trespass and criminal intimidation, and that there was no reference in any of the FIRs that he had gained monetarily from the alleged criminal activity, the counsel contended that there are no proceeds of crime.
However, setting aside the contention, a division bench comprising Justice PN Prakash and Justice V Sivagnanam said: “It is not the case of the accused that Sridhar was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and that by sheer dint of hard work expending his sweat and blood, he had acquired the properties… For instance, there are 10 immovable properties in the name of the petitioner for which the guideline value is around Rs 19 crore, whereas the actual purchase price is only around Rs 3.50 crore. This, prima facie, shows that prime properties have been acquired for peanuts by criminal intimidation, extortion and threat of murder.
“What the PML Act seeks to do is to send a stern warning to criminals that it would neither allow them nor their offspring to enjoy the fruits of their material sins and that the State would not only appropriate the ill-gotten wealth but would also punish those who are found in possession and enjoyment of such tainted wealth,” the bench held, noting that such a stern message will act as a deterrence.