The Kerala High Court on Wednesday directed District Collectors who are the competent authorities under Section 4 of the Kerala Protection of Interests of Depositors in Financial Establishments (KPID) Act to order closure of all branches of Popular Finance Limited and its allied institutions and attachment of the cash, gold and all assets of the branches.

Justice V.G. Arun while issuing the directive kept in abeyance the State Police Chief’s circular directing all police stations not to register First Information Reports (FIRs) based on individual complaints received from the investors and asking to transfer complaints to the Konni police station.

The court directed the Station House Officers to register separate cases and FIRs on receipt of such complaints.

The court directed the Centre to take a decision on the request of the State government for a CBI probe into the cases expeditiously. If the Centre decided to entrust the probe with the CBI, a special investigation team consisting of officers having experience and expertise in investigating economic offences should be constituted by the CBI, the court ordered.

The court passed the order on a batch of petitions seeking a CBI probe into the cheating case and invocation of the provisions of the KPID Act. According to the petitioners, a CBI probe was essential as the directors of the Konni-based non-banking finance firm had swindled depositors to the tune of around ₹2,000 crore. They also challenged the refusal of the police to register separate FIRs on individual complaints.

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