27 March 2023 1:00 PM GMT
The Supreme Court, on Monday, posted the petition filed by Telangana CM's daughter and Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader, K. Kavitha, challenging ED summons in relation to the Delhi Excise Policy case, after three weeks.After briefly considering the submissions made by Senior Advocate, Mr. Kapil Sibal for Kavitha and ASG, Mr. S.V. Raju for then Directorate of Enforcement, a Bench...
The Supreme Court, on Monday, posted the petition filed by Telangana CM's daughter and Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader, K. Kavitha, challenging ED summons in relation to the Delhi Excise Policy case, after three weeks.
After briefly considering the submissions made by Senior Advocate, Mr. Kapil Sibal for Kavitha and ASG, Mr. S.V. Raju for then Directorate of Enforcement, a Bench comprising Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice Bela M. Trivedi tagged Kavitha’s matter with Nalini Chidambaram’s case, wherein similar issued are pending before the Apex Court. In Nalini Chidambaram’s case, the Apex Court had passed interim orders restraining the ED from summoning her in connection with the Saradha Chit Fund Scam.
The Bench is to take up the matter after three weeks.
At the outset, Mr. Sibal put forth the issue to be considered by the Apex Court as, “whether she is to be interrogated here or her residence?"
Mr. Raju submitted that the rights available to a woman witness under Section 60 of the CrPC (Police officer’s power to require attendance of witnesses) with respect to the place of questioning is not applicable to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. He said that the same has now been decided by the Supreme Court in Vijay Madanlal Choudhary v. Union of India (PMLA case). Mr. Sibal objected to the submission stating that the three-bench in the PMLA case had not decided the concerned issue. He added that in the PMLA there is no procedure for issuing summons for investigation. It was pointed out that Section 65 of PMLA permits reliance on the provisions of the Cr.P.C. when the provision of the Code is not inconsistent with the provisions of PMLA. The PMLA provides for powers of authorities regarding summons under Section 50, the purpose for the same is inquiry and not investigation. He argued that in the present case, summons have been issued to Kavitha as an accused and for the purpose of investigation.
Kavitha, presently an MLA from the Nizamabad Local Bodies Constituency, claims that she is not named in the FIR and that the summons are in teeth of Section 160 CrPC which stipulates that no woman shall be required to attend as witness at any place other than the place in which she resides. Kavitha has been asked to appear before ED in Delhi, purportedly to confront her with an arrestee in the case.
She submits that the ED gave her a very short notice for appearance and denied her requests to be examined at her residence or to extend the date of examination. Consequently, she appeared before ED on March 11.
During this appearance, the former MP alleges to be subjected to multiple illegalities by the ED. She says she was forced to produce her cell phone whereas she was summoned under Sections 50(2), 50(3) PMLA which do not require production of mobile. The agency is then said to have seized her device and to have interrogated her, a lady, much after the sunset. No confrontation with any arrestee was done, she added.
Kavitha further claims that ED purposely leaked her personal contact details in the garb of filing a remand application qua one of the accused in the case and thereafter, the CBI served a notice upon her and questioned her for almost 7 hours.
Her plea states that ED has been adopting highly coercive tactics and third degree measures in connection with their purported investigations.
"There is no case against the Petitioner. The only basis on which the Petitioner has been implicated is on basis of certain statement of few persons who have given incriminating statement qua themselves as well as allegedly against the Petitioner. However, such statements have been extracted out of threat and coercion, which is evident from the fact that on 10.03.2023, one Mr. Arun Ramachandran Pillai, have retracted his statement. The credibility of the statements purported to be against the Petitioner is under serious doubt," the plea filed through Advocate Vandana Sehgal adds.
[Case Title: Kalvakuntla Kavitha v. Directorate of Enforcement WP(Crl) No. 103/2023]