Temporary relief for Nalini Chidambaram as Madras HC restrains ED

  • PTI, Chennai
  • Updated: Sep 22, 2016 07:05 IST
Union finance minister P Chidambaram with his wife Nalini at the 2013 Indian Badminton League in New Delhi. (File Photo)

In an interim relief to senior advocate Nalini Chidambaram, wife of former Union minister P Chidambaram, the Madras high court on Wednesday directed the Enforcement Directorate to not proceed further on its summons till further orders. Instead, it asked her to appear before the court in connection with its money-laundering probe in the Saradha chit fund scam.

Passing the order on Nalini’s petition seeking quashing of the last ED summons dated September 7, issued under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), Justice TS Sivagnanam said the court was inclined to grant the interim relief as not doing so would render the writ plea “infructuous”.

The judge directed the Assistant Director, ED, Kolkata not to proceed further, pursuant to the impugned order (summons) and said the matter shall be kept in abeyance until further orders.

The matter relates to the “professional fee” of Rs 1 crore, paid to Nalini by Saradha Group chairman Sudipto Sen for her appearance in a Delhi court and the Company Law Board (CLB) on behalf of former Union minister Matang Singh’s wife Manoranjana, over a deal involving the purchase of three television channels.

Sen had paid the fee as part of an agreement between him and Manoranjana.

The ED had issued the summons to Nalini, asking her to appear before it on September 29.

Read | ED summons Chidambaram’s wife Nalini over Saradha scam probe

Alleging “political” reasons behind it, Nalini’s counsel had pointed out in court that the CBI had already filed a chargesheet in the Saradha chit fund scam before a court in West Bengal and her name did not figure in it either as an accused or a witness. Yet, she was summoned by the ED.

Contending that the professional fee was received before the scam came to light, Nalini had submitted that as per section 160 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), a woman could not be summoned by the police and the inquiry had to be conducted at her residence.

Appearing for the ED, assistant solicitor general G Rajagopalan submitted that the matter was only in the stage of summons and mere summoning itself could not be assumed as the person had been made an accused.

In Wednesday’s order, the judge said, “This court is of the considered view that the respondent (ED) should file counter affidavits, not only meeting the factual allegations made, but also the legal contentions raised.”

Referring to Nalini’s objection to summoning a woman to the police station, he said it had to be examined if the provisions of the CrPC or that of the PMLA would prevail in the light of certain judgments cited by both the sides.

The judge directed the ED to file its counter within four weeks and posted the matter to November 8.

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