The Delhi High Court on Monday deferred its hearing for a day on a plea filed by Abhishek Bannerjee, All India Trinamool Congress MP and nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, along with his wife Rujira Banerjee, seeking to quash summons issued by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a case of alleged money laundering in the West Bengal Coal Scam.
A Single-Judge Bench of Justice Yogesh Khanna deferred the hearing, as ASG S.V. Raju was on his legs, arguing before another bench.
Abhishek had been summoned by ED for the third time on September 21. He has previously responded to the first summon and was quizzed for nine hours on September 6 in New Delhi. He could not respond to the second summon, as only a one-day notice was issued to him.
At the outset, CBI, Kolkata had registered a First Information Report in November last year, on the allegations that an illegal coal pilferage was taking place at the Eastern Coalfield Ltd Mines in the area of West Bengal. During investigation into the matter, it was revealed that Abhishek, along with West Bengal PWD and Law Minister Moloy Ghatak, had received kick-backs from funds obtained in the alleged illegal mining scandal.
The petition filed by Abhishek further sought directions to the ED, not to issue summons to the petitioners for their appearance and not compel the petitioners to join the investigation in the West Bengal Coal Scam case.
The petition averred that Banerjee and his wife have neither been named in the CBI FIR, nor in the complaint filed by ED under Section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002. Further, the petition contended that the Head of Investigative Unit of ED has no jurisdiction to assume investigative powers in respect of allegations of money laundering arising in respect of the scheduled offence, as the same could only have been investigated into by the concerned zonal office at Kolkata.
The petition further alleged that ED was carrying out a biased investigation and is selectively leaking information to the media with the intent of harming the reputation of Banerjee.
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“The petitioners further have serious apprehensions about the fairness of the investigation being conducted by the Respondent, owing to the fact that the Respondent is adopting a pick and choose attitude with respect to certain persons and is giving undue benefit of 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. The petitioners, therefore, have a genuine apprehension of being coerced, threatened and falsely implicated in the instant case,”
-added the plea.
Previously, the ED had also moved the Delhi High Court, seeking quashing of notices issued to its officials, probing in respect of money laundering in West Bengal Coal Scam, by Kolkata Police Special Cell.
The ED had alleged in the plea that in order to pressurise the investigating officers, Abhishek had lodged an FIR at Kalighat police staion in Kolkata in April this year, in respect of which, notices have been issued by the West Bengal Police to the officials performing their statutory functions in Delhi.
“The said FIR has been registered with a mala fide intention to derail the investigation under PMLA being conducted by the Directorate of Enforcement”
-the plea had contended.
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