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"ED Can Interrogate Or Arrest Me In Calcutta, Not Asking For Any Blanket Order": TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee, His Wife Tells Delhi HC

Nupur Thapliyal
27 Sep 2021 12:03 PM GMT
ED Can Interrogate Or Arrest Me In Calcutta, Not Asking For Any Blanket Order: TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee, His Wife Tells Delhi HC
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All India Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee and his wife informed the Delhi High Court on Monday that the Enforcement Directorate can interrogate or arrest them in Calcutta in connection with West Bengal coal scam case and that they were not asking for a blanket order by approaching the Court.Justice Yogesh Khanna was hearing a peititon filed by the two seeking quashing of summons issued...

All India Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee and his wife informed the Delhi High Court on Monday that the Enforcement Directorate can interrogate or arrest them in Calcutta in connection with West Bengal coal scam case and that they were not asking for a blanket order by approaching the Court.

Justice Yogesh Khanna was hearing a peititon filed by the two seeking quashing of summons issued to them by the Enforcement Directorate in the coal scam case.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal submitted before the Court that the application of sec. 160 CrPC has got nothing to do with Enforcement Directorate's power to investigate the matter or its impact on Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

"Please note my submission, I'm asking for no blanket order or no coercive steps. I'm not asking for any type of blanket order in this case," Sibal submitted.

However, due to unavailability of ASG SV Raju appearing for ED today, the matter was adjourned to tomorrow for detailed hearing.

According to Sibal, it was previously argued that ED is entitled to interrogate the petitioners and seek their evidence, however, it can only do so within the prescints of the police station which is jurisdictional for the purpose of recording statements.

During the previous course of hearing, he also placed reliance on sec. 160 of CrPC to argue that any police officer, making an investigation may, by order in writing, require the attendance before himself of any person being within the limits of his own or any adjoining station.

On the other hand, it was submitted by Raju that as per Banerjee's own submission and the reply filed by him, it has been stated that he has a Delhi address. Furthermore, on the broader question of jurisdiciton, Raju submitted that sec. 160 of CrPC doesn't apply to PMLA proceedings and that the issue is writ large pending before Supreme Court.

It was submitted that there should be little or no interference with the investigation and that it's the prerogative of the Investigating Officer to decide how and where the same has to be carried out.

Adding on the aforesaid, SGI Mehta submitted that PMLA Act by its very architecture is completely designed different from the CrPC and that the distinction created by Sibal between the provisions of CrPC and PMLA Act cannot be accepted.

Filed through Advocates Rupin Bahl and Angad Mehta, the petition states that both Banerjee and his wife have not been named neither in the CBI FIR nor in the complaint registered by the ED in New Delhi under sec. 45 of PMLA.

The plea therefore states that the agency "cannot assume investigative powers in respect of allegations of money laundering arising in the scheduled offence as the same could only have been investigated into by the concerned zonal office at Kolkata."

"The Respondent has repeatedly summoned the Petitioner No. 1 and 2, for examination in person, at New Delhi without supplying a copy of the ECIR and without specifying whether the Petitioners are being summoned as witnesses or accused, nor indicating the scope of the investigation being carried out. It is submitted that the Respondent cannot be allowed to exercise the threat of prosecution and penalty inherent under Section 50 of the PMLA to coerce persons to become witnesses against themselves and violate the fundamental protection under Article 20(3) of the Constitution of India, 1950," the plea states.

It adds thus:

"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 and protection to complicit individuals and in return extracting false, baseless and malicious statements from them."

The plea also states that the Agency is selectively leaking information to the media "with the intent of harming their reputation and encouraging a media trial in order to falsely embroil them in baseless and scandalous allegations."

Title: ABHISHEK BANERJEE AND ANR. v. DIRECTORATE OF ENFORCEMENT, REPRESENTED BY ITS ASSISTANT

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