Coal Scam | 'Won't tolerate obstruction', SC tells Bengal, directs ED to quiz Abhishek Banerjee in Kolkata

The Supreme Court in an interim order stayed Delhi High Court March 11 order by which Banerjees' pleas against the issuance of summons by the ED were dismissed.

By Talibuddin Khan
Updated: Tue, 17 May 2022 01:21 PM IST
Minute Read
Coal Scam | 'Won't tolerate obstruction', SC tells Bengal, directs ED to quiz Abhishek Banerjee in Kolkata
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New Delhi | ANI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to interrogate Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Abhishek Banerjee and his wife Rujira Banerjee in Kolkata instead of Delhi. A bench of Justices UU Lalit, S Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia said the ED has to give at least 24 hours prior notice to the couple before interrogation and simultaneously a notice shall be issued to the Commissioner of Police and Chief Secretary of Kolkata.

The Supreme Court in an interim order stayed Delhi High Court March 11 order by which Banerjees' pleas against the issuance of summons by the ED were dismissed. The Court said it would not tolerate any kind of obstruction and interference by state machinery if ED interrogates the Banerjees in Kolkata.

The apex court also issued notice to the ED on Banerjees' appeal against the High Court order and sought a response within three weeks and posted the matter for hearing on July 19. The State of West Bengal assured the Supreme Court that complete assistance shall be rendered by West Bengal to ED officials.

In case there is any interference, the ED shall approach the vacation court of the apex court, said the SC. The West Bengal government has assured that in case any complaint is filed against ED officials no coercive action will be initiated, noted SC in its order.

The ED is conducting the investigation in a money-laundering probe, linked to an alleged coal scam in West Bengal, in which the agency had issued summons to the Banerjee couple. Abhishek Banerjee, the nephew of TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, had told the apex court that he is ready to be probed by the ED in Kolkata.

The Banerjees have challenged the summons issued to them by the ED for appearance here in connection with the money laundering probe linked to an alleged coal scam in West Bengal. They have requested the top court to quash the summons and restrain the ED from seeking their presence for questioning in Delhi. They pleaded that they can be questioned by the ED at Kolkata and sought a stay on High Court's order.

Approaching the top court, Banerjee said he belongs to TMC and was a leading figure in keenly contested Assembly Elections in the West Bengal in April/May 2021 (around the same time when the FIR was registered) wherein his party trounced the political party at power in the Centre, and "thereby giving justifiable cause to "target" and "fix" the Petitioner no.1 (Banerjee) by misusing the Central Investigation Agencies".

The ED lodged a case under the provisions of the PMLA based on a November 2020 FIR registered by the CBI that alleged a multi-crore coal pilferage scam related to Eastern Coalfields Ltd mines in the state's Kunustoria and Kajora areas in and around Asansol.

A local coal operative Anup Majee is alleged to be the prime suspect in the case. The ED had claimed that the TMC MP was a beneficiary of funds obtained from this illegal trade. Banerjee has denied all charges.

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