Delhi HC refuses to grant interim relief to TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee, wife

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New Delhi [India], September 21 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Tuesday refused to grant any interim relief to TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee and refused to stay the Enforcement Directorate (ED) summons issued against him and his wife.

A single-judge bench of Justice Yogesh Khanna asked ED to file a reply on Abhishek Banerjee's plea challenging its summons to him and his wife.

The Court has listed the matter for further hearing on September 27.

The Delhi High Court was hearing Banerjee's plea challenging ED summons to him and his wife.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Abhishek Banerjee told the Court that he is challenging the summons issued by the Enforcement Directorate, asking him to appear on September 21.

Sibal told the Court that ED is demanding the income tax returns and other income documents of the whole family.

Banerjee's lawyer also accused ED of selectively leaking information to the media with the intent of harming the reputation of the petitioners and encouraging a media trial. He also apprised the Court that his client had appeared before ED earlier and was grilled for 10-11 hours.

The lawyer said that Banerjee was asked about his income tax return 10 years ago and overseas visits by him and his family members.

Sibal told the Court that there is an embargo on his wife. She has to be interrogated at her residence, Sibal adding that a woman, a disabled person, a child should be investigated only where they reside and they can't be called to Delhi.

Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, appearing for ED, told the Court that there is a difference between probes in offences dealing with provisions of PMLA and IPC and in IPC offences, there are police stations that have jurisdiction, however, in PMLA there is no such territorial jurisdiction.

Additional Solicitor General SV Raju clarified that enquiry dealing with offences under the provisions of PMLA can be held anywhere as it has no such territorial jurisdiction

ED told the Delhi HC that it has evidence that the wife of Abhishek Banerjee was in a beauty parlour, the day his wife has replied to the investigating agency that she is not in Delhi and she would not come. Unfortunately, we don't provide services like a beauty parlour at our office, ASG Raju said.

Senior Advocate Sibal raised objections to such arguments related to beauty parlours and submitted that "Let us stick to the law".

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that the argument is not a sarcastic remark but the investigating agency has proof and they know where she was in Delhi exactly.

ASG SV Raju said that the probe will happen at the instructions of the investigating officer and the agency officer has the right to decide when and where enquiry will be conducted and no interference by the accused is allowed.

The petitioners sought the Court's direction to set aside and quash the summons issued in connection with the coal mining scam.

Abhishek Banerjee along with his wife Rujira Banerjee sought the issuance of direction to the ED to not summon them in New Delhi and carry out any further examination in Kolkata, West Bengal.

According to the plea, the ED had on September 10, issued fresh summons to Abhishek Banerjee under Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 requiring the personal appearance of him along with a voluminous set of documents on September 21, 2021, in New Delhi.

The petitioners alleged that they have serious apprehensions about the fairness of the investigation being conducted by the ED owing to the fact that the respondent is adopting a pick and choose the attitude with respect to certain persons and is giving undue benefit and protection to complicit individuals and in return extracting false, baseless and malicious statements from them.

"The respondent agency is also selectively leaking information to the media with the intent of harming the reputation of the petitioners and encouraging a media trial, the details of which are further elaborated in the accompanying petition, in order to falsely embroil the Petitioners in baseless and scandalous allegations," read the plea.

The petition stated that the petitioner Abhishek Banerjee, is a politician hailing from the state of West Bengal and is presently serving as a Member of Parliament in the Lok Sabha, having been elected from the Diamond Harbour, South 24 Parganas constituency in West Bengal and hence is a respected individual and a prominent member of the Indian polity and society. He has two minor children under her care, said the plea.

In this particular alleged illegal coal mining case, in the state of West Bengal, the CBI had already interrogated Abhishek Banerjee. (ANI)

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