CHENNAI: A division bench of the Madras High Court has dismissed the appeals from Nalini, wife of former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram, challenging the summons of Enforcement Directorate asking her to appear before its office in Kolkata in connection with Saradha Chit Funds scam case.
“The appellant has not produced sufficient material, even prima facie so as to enable us either to hold the existence to likelihood of bias or malice either in fact or law,” a bench of Justices M M Sundresh and N Anand Venkatesan said on Tuesday.
Nalini said she had received `1 crore from the firm towards fees for rendering professional assistance and it was done after deducting TDS. The income had also been reflected in her return of income and accordingly tax had been paid. She also took umbrage under Sec. 160 of CrPC, which stipulated certain restrictions on summoning women for enquiry.
Dismissing the appeals, the bench pointed out that Nalini, a designated senior advocate, was initially permitted to appear through the authorised agent. But, the impugned notice was issued on finding certain new facts and contradiction in the statements given by the agent. Nalini has been rendering a professional service by travelling extensively throughout the country. For appearing before an authority, which is mandated by law, she seeks protective discrimination as a woman.
A legal profession stands apart on its own. In discharge of a professional duty, there is no difference between a man and woman. It is clear from reading of Sec.160 CrPC, certainly, the fair construction principle would apply. There is no demon in the summons issued at this stage. There is no need to speculate. Neither a likelihood of bias nor malice can be seen through the summons issued. The appellant did not choose to challenge the summons earlier. She did rightly appear through the agent. Issues have been raised only when the ED asked her to appear in person, the bench said.