New Delhi, Sep 17 (PTI) TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee and his wife Friday approached the Delhi High Court seeking quashing of summons issued to them by the Enforcement Directorate for questioning in a money laundering case linked to an alleged coal scam in West Bengal, saying they are residents of Kolkata and should not be compelled to join the probe in the national capital.
The plea was mentioned before the high court for urgent listing and is likely to come up for hearing on September 21, the day when he and his wife Rujira Banerjee have been asked to personally appear before the agency in Delhi along with a voluminous set of documents.
Abhishek Banerjee, nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and his wife have challenged the September 10 summons and also sought to direct the ED not to summon them for their appearance in Delhi and thereby not compelling them to join the investigation in the instant case here.
The 33-year-old MP represents the Diamond Harbour seat in Lok Sabha and is the national general secretary of the Trinamool Congress (TMC).
The plea also said that a greater degree of protection is granted to a woman under Section 160 of the CrPC, which mandates that she shall not be required to attend any place other than where she resides.
It said the repeated issuance of summons to Rujira Banerjee to appear before the ED is ex-facie illegal and mala fide and sought court’s intervention before any coercive measures are resorted to by the agency.
The ED lodged a case under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act on the basis of 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 earlier claimed that Abhishek Banerjee was a beneficiary of funds obtained from this illegal trade. He has denied all charges.
Abhishek Banerjee said ED has repeatedly summoned him and his wife for examination in person in Delhi without supplying a copy of the ECIR (Enforcement Case Information Report) and without specifying whether they are being summoned as witnesses or accused, nor indicating the scope of the investigation being carried out.
He said their examination may take place in Kolkata where ED has a functional and fully equipped zonal office.