The Supreme Court ordered the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to question TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee and his wife Rujira Banerjee in Kolkata rather than Delhi on Tuesday. The ED must provide the couple at least 24 hours’ notice before interrogation, according to a bench of Justices UU Lalit, S Ravindra Bhat, and Sudhanshu Dhulia. A notice must also be issued to the Commissioner of Police and Chief Secretary of Kolkata.
The Supreme Court has issued an interim judgement staying the Delhi High Court’s March 11 order dismissing Banerjees’ appeals against the ED’s summons issuance. If the ED interrogates the Banerjees in Kolkata, the Court has stated that it will not allow any form of state meddling or obstruction.
The Supreme Court also sent notice on the ED on Banerjees’ appeal against the High Court ruling, requesting a response within three weeks and setting a hearing date for July 19. The state of West Bengal informed the Supreme Court that it will provide complete cooperation to ED personnel.
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 investigating a money-laundering case involving the Banerjees, which is linked to an alleged coal fraud in West Bengal, for which the agency had issued summonses. Abhishek Banerjee, Mamata Banerjee’s nephew, had told the Supreme Court that he is willing to be investigated by the ED in Kolkata.
The ED filed a case under the PMLA based on a CBI FIR filed in November 2020 alleging a multi-crore coal pilferage scheme involving Eastern Coalfields Ltd mines in the state’s Kunustoria and Kajora districts in and near Asansol.
Anup Majee, a local coal miner, is said to be the main suspect in the crime. According to the ED, the TMC MP was a recipient of monies obtained through this unlawful activity. Banerjee has refuted all of the allegations.