HC dismisses plea by TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee, wife challenging summons for appearance in Delhi
The Delhi HC dismissed a plea by TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee and his wife challenging the summons issued to them for appearance in Delhi.
Published: 11th March 2022 09:29 PM | Last Updated: 11th March 2022 09:29 PM | A+A A-
NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court Friday dismissed a plea by TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee and his wife challenging the summons issued to them for appearance here in connection with the money laundering probe linked to an alleged coal scam in West Bengal.
Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar denied the relief to Abhishek Banerjee, the nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and his wife Rujira Banerjee who had challenged the September 10, 2021 summons issued to them and had sought direction to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) not to summon them for their appearance in Delhi since they are residents of West Bengal.
The high court also dismissed Rujira's another petition which had challenged the ED's complaint filed in the money laundering case against her, the trial court order taking cognisance of that complaint and the subsequent issuance of a summons for physical appearance.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing ED, had opposed the couple's plea challenging the summons issued to them, saying the jurisdiction of ED probe was not confined to one area, police station or State as the offences under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) often have cross border implications.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Banerjee couple, had argued that the investigating agency has failed to show the provision of law granting it specific power to summon the petitioners to the national capital.
He had contended that ED lacked the power to summon the petitioners to Delhi in connection with the money laundering case and had clarified that it was not his case that there should be no investigation under the money laundering law but the agency should come to Kolkata to interrogate them.
Additional Solicitor General S V Raju and lawyer Amit Mahajan, also appearing for ED, had argued that the case was being probed by the Headquarter Investigative Unit (HIU) of ED which has an all-India jurisdiction and the challenge to the summons issued for appearance in Delhi last year was untenable.
The ASG had also objected to the petitioners' claim that they were residents of Kolkata and stated that there was admittedly a Delhi address as Abhishek Banerjee is a Member of Parliament and must be staying here when the Parliament is in session.
The couple, who was asked by the agency to personally appear before it in Delhi on September 21, 2021, along with a voluminous set of documents, had contended in the petition that they were residents of Kolkata and should not be compelled to join the probe here.
The 34-year-old MP represents the Diamond Harbour seat in Lok Sabha and is the national general secretary of the Trinamool Congress (TMC).
The high court had earlier refused to grant any interim relief to Banerjee and his wife in the matter.
The ED lodged a case under the provisions of the PMLA based on a November 2020 FIR registered by the CBI that alleged a multi-crore coal pilferage scam related to Eastern Coalfields Ltd mines in the state's Kunustoria and Kajora areas in and around Asansol.
Local coal operative Anup Majhi alias Lala is alleged to be the prime suspect in the case.
The ED had claimed that the TMC MP was a beneficiary of funds obtained from this illegal trade.
He has denied all charges.