The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the Delhi High Court’s order, which dismissed Trinamul Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee and his wife’s challenge to the ED’s summons issued in connection with a money laundering case linked to the alleged West Bengal coal scam.
However, the top court allowed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to summon Banerjee at its Kolkata office, and added that it will not tolerate any hooliganism or obstruction, when ED questions Banerjee in Kolkata.
A bench headed by Justice UU Lalit said the state government will provide assistance to the ED officials, who will have to give a 24-hour prior notice to question Banerjee and his wife. “If there is any kind of hooliganism or infraction, we will not tolerate it,” said the bench, also comprising Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia.
Additional Solicitor General SV Raju told the apex court that Banerjee is a potential accused in the coal scam and the ED needs to interrogate him in Delhi. Raju said it will be very difficult to interrogate him in Kolkata. Last week, Raju told the top court that Banerjee is an influential politician. “My lords know how Central agencies were treated in Kolkata…CBI officers were gheraoed…I should not be saying this,” he submitted.
The top court recorded that the West Bengal government has assured that no coercive action will be initiated against ED officials without approaching it.
Banerjee and his wife’s plea, filed through advocate Sunil Fernandes, said: “The party to which the petitioner 1 (Abhishek) belonged, comprehensively trounced the political party at power in the Centre, thereby giving justifiable cause to ‘target’ and ‘fix’ the petitioner 1, by misusing the central investigation agencies”.