New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday refused to quash the summons issued by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to West Bengal Law Minister Moloy Ghatak in connection with its probe into the coal pilferage case in the state, saying that there was no ground to either quash the summons issued to him or the ECIR registered by the ED.
Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma was hearing the plea of Ghatak seeking quashing of the ECIR and the said summon issued by the ED, and for issuance of a direction to the ED to refrain from issuing any further summons to him for appearing in ED’s New Delhi office.
What did the High Court say?
The High Court noted that the state law minister has not appeared before the ED on 11 out of 12 occasions and said that Ghatak had argued that he was being sent repeated summons and the ED be restrained from sending summons in future and “It is rather surprising that the petitioner himself has not appeared before the Directorate of Enforcement on eleven occasions out of twelve to give information that they are seeking. In such circumstances, when he himself has not appeared before Directorate of Enforcement except once, such relief cannot even be considered by this Court, at this stage.”
The High Court said that the ED will be at the liberty to require Ghatak’s attendance in its Kolkata office by giving him at least 24 hours’ notice and notices shall also be issued to the Kolkata Police Commissioner and the West Bengal chief secretary so that adequate police protection is afforded to the persons seeking to examine or interrogate him and to avoid any difficulty or obstruction or interference with the ED officers.
“The petitioner being the Law Minister of the State of West Bengal itself where he wants to be examined will also ensure that no harm is caused to the officers of Directorate of Enforcement examining him at Kolkata as this relief is being granted to him at his request only,” the High Court said.
What West Bengal Law Minister submitted?
Ghatak in his plea said that he has been repeatedly summoned by the ED directing him to appear for questioning at its New Delhi office in connection with present ECIR, though he resides in Kolkata and the ED has a zonal office in Kolkata. He further submitted that despite being not an accused in the predicate offence, he is being repeatedly summoned without being informed as to whether he is being called to join investigation as an accused or as a witness.
What is the case?
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), ACB, Kolkata registered a case In November 2020 against several persons for the alleged offences of criminal conspiracy and criminal breach of trust by public servant under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act for illegal excavation and theft of coal from the leasehold area of the Eastern Coalfield Ltd (ECL) in active connivance with officials of ECL, CISF, Indian Railways and other departments. Based on this, the ED registered a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).