Saturday, Nov 08, 2003
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By Our Staff Reporter
Justice P. Sathasivam yesterday dismissed a petition from GoldQuest International for an order restraining authorities from continuing to keep sealed their office, Rain Tree Place at Chetpet, and to restrain officials from interfering with the operation of the company's bank account.
The company markets its gold and gold products through a multilevel concept of rewarding consumers who introduce new members. After the first complaint was registered on April 10, more than 100 persons followed suit, saying the company conducted its business mainly by enrolling persons and paying a commission out of the money mobilised from members, rather than by sale of numismatic coins.
Senior counsel for GoldQuest, P. Chidambaram, said unless the company was allowed to transact business and operate bank accounts, it would have to face serious consequences at the hands of not only the customers but also the Income Tax and Commercial Tax departments. He also faulted police action, including non-submission of seizure reports to higher authorities.
However, Mr. Justice Sathasivam concurred with the submissions made by the government advocate, Abudukumar Rajarathinam, that since the investigating officer was incharge of the police station, there was no need for him to submit the seizure report to any other officer.
Also, a police officer, in the course of investigation, could seize bank accounts of the accused and prohibit their operation if there was evidence to show that such assets had direct links with the commission of the offence. ``In the absence of specific details such as the actual number of complainants, the amount involved and the amount payable by GoldQuest, any direction (as prayed for) cannot be issued at this stage''. This court would not prohibit the lawful authority of the investigating officer in probing the case and filing a final report before the competent court.
On Mr. Chidambaram's submission that the Union Consumer Affairs Secretary had sent a communication to all States asking them not to interfere with multilevel marketing businesses, the judge said, ``it is only a letter from the official, and not a notification duly published in the official gazette''.
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