SC agrees to list Abhishek Banerjee’s plea against ED summons

The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to list next week, a plea filed by the Trinamool Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee — the nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and his wife Rujira Banerjee, challenging the ED summons in a money laundering case linked to an alleged coal scam.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Abhishek Banerjee, urged a bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana to urgently list the matter for hearing. The bench, also comprising Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli, said it may list the matter for hearing next week.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) summoned Banerjee and his wife to appear for questioning on March 21 and 22. The couple had earlier moved the Delhi High Court against the ED’s summons, contending that since both are resident of West Bengal, they should not be called by the agency to appear before it in the national capital.

On March 11, the high court dismissed their plea. The couple has moved the apex court challenging the high court order. Their plea, filed through advocate Sunil Fernandes, said: “The party to which the Petitioner No.1 (Abhishek) belonged, comprehensively trounced the political party at power in the Centre, thereby giving justifiable cause to ‘target’ and ‘fix’ the Petitioner No.1, by misusing the Central Investigation Agencies.”

It further added: “It is not only against the basic principles of territorial jurisdiction, but could also result in absurd consequences and situations wherein the officers of the respondent agency situated in any state in India can summon any person residing in any other state, without any regard to the place of occurrence of offence, or the place of residence of the summoned person.”

The plea said the ED did not even attempt to interrogate the petitioners firstly at Kolkata, and it is still unclear as to what are the impediments that ED will face if it interrogates them at their full-fledged office in Kolkata.

The plea added: “The petitioners’ contention of political victimisation is further fortified by the inscrutable and inexplicable insistence of the ED to interrogate the petitioners at their New Delhi office instead of their full-fledged office in Kolkata. The ED seems more interested in causing prejudice to the petitioners herein rather than sincerely and expeditiously investigate the alleged offence.”

The petitioners urged the apex court to stay the high court order and direct the ED to summon the petitioners under section 50 PMLA only in Kolkata.

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