Abhishek Banerjee's sister-in-law moves HC after ED stops her from flying abroad
Maneka Gambhir was on Saturday stopped by immigration officials from boarding a flight to Bangkok, where her parents live. She was asked to wait, and later an ED officer from the central agency's Kolkata office reached the airport and handed Gambhir the notice.
The sister-in-law of Trinamool Congress MP and party's general secretary Abhishek Banerjee on Monday filed a contempt plea before the Calcutta high court after she was stopped by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) from travelling outside India. In her plea, Maneka Gambhir said no restriction of not leaving the country was imposed by the federal agency in its order.
The petition, mentioned before the court of Justice Moushumi Bhattacharya, is likely to be taken up for hearing later this week, news agency PTI reported.
Earlier in the day, Maneka appeared before the ED at its office in Kolkata for questioning in connection with the coal smuggling scam. She had initially been summoned by the agency at 12.30am Monday instead of 12.30pm.
Wearing a blue kurta, she reached the ED office, and a picture showed her standing before locked gates holding the notice. The agency later issued fresh summons to Gambhir, asking her to appear for questioning by 2pm on Monday, and called the earlier notice a “typographical error” that was sent “erroneously”.
During her appearance before the ED, Gambhir was accompanied by a lawyer.
On Saturday, immigration officials at Kolkata's Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport had stopped the top TMC leader’s relative from boarding a 9pm flight to Bangkok in Thailand, where her parents reside. She was asked to wait as the ED office in Delhi was informed. Later, an ED officer from its Kolkata office reached the airport and handed Gambhir the notice.
The Calcutta high court had on August 30 directed the central agency to question Gambhir at its regional office in Kolkata and not in Delhi, and also not to take coercive steps against her till the next date of hearing.
The move came after she had challenged an ED summons that asked her to appear before it in Delhi on September 5 in connection with the coal scam, after which she sought direction from the court to allow the questioning to be done in Kolkata itself.
Gambhir, her husband and father-in-law were all questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) earlier in connection with an alleged funds transfer to a foreign bank, claiming it pertains to the coal smuggling.
Her sister and Banerjee's wife, Rujira, has been questioned by both the ED and the CBI on multiple occasions since 2021.
Banerjee, who too has been questioned many times by the ED, was last grilled for eight hours on September 2, following which he lashed out at Union home minister Amit Shah. The TMC MP alleged that all federal agencies are being used by the Centre against opposition parties so that non-BJP ruled state governments can be toppled without fighting political battles.
(With agency inputs)