HC denies interim relief to TMC MP

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday declined to grant any interim relief to TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee and his wife Rujira Banerjee, who had sought quashing summons issued by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case linked to an alleged coal scam in West Bengal.

Justice Yogesh Khanna asked the ED to respond to the couple’s plea within three days and posted it for further hearing on September 27.

“Let me be very clear. I am not granting any stay. I am issuing notice,” the High Court clarified.

Mr. Banerjee, in his petition filed jointly with his wife, has challenged the summons order issued by the Assistant Director of the ED asking for his personal appearance along with a voluminous set of documents in New Delhi on Tuesday.

The case is arising out of an FIR registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) with respect to alleged offences of illegal mining and theft of coal from the leasehold areas of Eastern Coalfields Limited committed in West Bengal by certain individuals. Based on the FIR, the ED has registered an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR).

During the hearing, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the couple, said he was not asking for any stay of the proceedings but to keep their questioning in West Bengal.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the ED, opposed the plea saying if they have any apprehensions, they can take appropriate remedy. The agency also opposed the plea saying money laundering has national and trans-national ramifications and its investigation is not restricted to any police station or area.

The couple, who are both permanent residents of Kolkata, claimed that the ED has repeatedly summoned both for examination in person, at New Delhi without supplying a copy of the ECIR and without specifying whether they are being summoned as witnesses or accused, nor indicating the scope of the investigation being carried out.

They raised “serious apprehensions about the fairness of the investigation” being conducted by ED claiming that the agency is adopting a “pick and choose attitude” with respect to certain persons and is giving undue benefit and protection to complicit individuals.

The couple also alleged the ED of selectively leaking information to the media with the intent of harming their reputation and encouraging a media trial.

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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 4:58:38 PM |

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