Calcutta HC restrains ED from any coercive action on Abhishek Banerjee's secretary for six weeks

By PTI

KOLKATA: Calcutta High Court has directed Enforcement Directorate not to take any coercive action for six weeks against Sumit Roy, who is the secretary to TMC’s national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee, in a money laundering case linked to an alleged coal scam in West Bengal.

The court also directed Roy to cooperate with the ED by appearing before it via video conference or be physically present in its office in Kolkata when summoned by the agency. The court in its order on November 9 directed the ED to file an affidavit-in-opposition and the petitioner to file his reply to that within the six week period, after which the matter will come up for hearing again.

“However, no coercive measure be taken against the petitioner in connection with the investigation in the above referred case for a period of six weeks from the date hereof,” Justice Shivakant Prasad directed. Roy had challenged the summons issued to him for his cooperation in the investigation in the PMLA case lodged by the ED in connection with the alleged coal scam.

The petitioner had challenged the constitutional validity of sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002, dealing with summons to an individual as ultra vires of the Constitution and prayed for quashing of the summons issued to him by the ED.

Roy also challenged the jurisdiction of ED to register a case in New Delhi when the offence has been allegedly committed within the territory of West Bengal and a specific case was registered by the CBI in the state.

SB Raju, Additional Solicitor General, Supreme Court and YJ Dastoor, ASG, West Bengal, representing the ED and the Union of India respectively, submitted that a similar matter is pending before the Supreme Court wherein the constitutional validity of the provisions of PMLA have been challenged.

Till an order is passed by the apex court, it has to be presumed that these provisions are constitutionally valid, they said. They further submitted that the high court should as such stay the hearing of the petition before it till the Supreme Court disposes the matter on the similar issue.

After hearing both the parties, Justice Prasad said the court found that the petitioner is not avoiding cooperation with the ED into the investigation. The court said that in response to the first summon issued on September 24, the petitioner had filed his reply on October 7 enclosing the documents for the information required.

Roy had prayed for an interim order of protection against the ED from taking any coercive action against him in connection with the case and to allow him to be examined through video conferencing or at the agency’s office in Kolkata.

The case is in relation to an alleged multi-crore rupees coal pilferage scam related to Eastern Coalfields’ mines in and around Asansol.