Coal scam case: Delhi HC to hear Abhishek Banerjee’s plea challenging ED summons
The Delhi high court will on Tuesday hear a plea filed by Trinamool Congress (TMC) general secretary Abhishek Banerjee and his wife Rujira, challenging summons issued to them by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with its investigation into an alleged coal scam case. Abhishek is the nephew of TMC supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
The Enforcement Directorate’s investigation is based on the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI’s) First Information Report (FIR), which was registered in November 2020 regarding alleged mass coal pilferage in Eastern Coalfields Limited mines in Kunustoria and Kajora regions of the state.
Both Abhishek and Rujira sought the Delhi high court’s direction to set aside and quash the summons issued to them. Last week, the petitioners sought direction from the ED to not summon them to New Delhi and carry out the investigation in Kolkata, by saying that they are permanent residents of the city and the coal scam case pertains to the state of West Bengal.
According to the plea, the ED issued fresh summons to Abhishek on September 10, under Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, requiring the personal appearance of him along with a voluminous set of documents on September 21 in the national capital.
The TMC general secretary and his wife have alleged that they have serious worries about the fairness of the investigation being carried out by the ED, "owing to the fact the respondent is adopting a pick and choose attitude with regard to certain people and is giving undue benefit and protection to complicit individuals and in return extracting false, baseless and malicious statements from them", news agency PTI reported on Monday.
The plea also read that the central agency was selectively leaking information to the media, with an intention of harming the reputation of the petitioners and encouraging a media trial.
Previously, the ED asked Abhishek Banerjee to appear before it on September 6, while Rujira on September 1. Rujira had expressed her inability to appear before the ED on September 1 by citing the ongoing coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic and requested the agency officials to visit her residence in Kolkata.
“This refers to summons dated August 18, 2021, asking me to appear in person in New Delhi on September 1. I am a mother of two infants, and travelling to New Delhi physically alone in the midst of the pandemic will put me and my children at grave risk,” she said in a letter addressed to ED’s assistant director Sumat Prakash Jain.