- Delhi High Court has quashed a petition filed by Abhishek Banerjee and his wife in relation to Coal Scam case
- They had sought relief on technical grounds, but the ED lawyer reasoned out Kapil Sibbal’s arguments
- Delhi High Court’s quashing of technicalities will further lead to decrease in the support for Banerjee
In the absence of Mamata Banerjee’s matrilineal heir, her nephew Abhishek Banerjee is considered to be her replacement in TMC. But the scion of TMC does not look in good political shape as Delhi High Court has refused to grant him relief on the basis of technicality, in the ED summons related to the Coal scam case.
Details of the case
Abhishek Banerjee and his wife Rujira had been directed to appear in Delhi office of Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a case related to the coal scam in West Bengal. The Banerjees are accused of benefitting immensely from alleged 1900 crore worth of coal scam.
After being summoned, the pair had filed petition against the summoning claiming that ED does not have power to investigate the offence of money laundering in Kolkata. They had claimed that only regional office (Kolkata in this case) of ED has the power to investigate the matter. Representing the duo, senior advocate Kapil Sibbal cited Section 65 of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and Section 160 of CrPC to prove his point.
Section 160 of CrPC defines jurisdictional territory of police officers, while Section 65 of PMLA states that provisions of Section CrPC are to apply.
ED’s arguments and Court’s opinion
In reply to Sibbal’s argument, ED replied that the case is being investigated by head branch of ED which can investigate cases arising in all over India. ED further urged that ED officers are not police officers, so the provisions of Section 160 of CrPC do not apply on them.
Accepting ED’s arguments, High Court said, “it is clear that the authorities under the PMLA are not restricted as per the territorial caskets envisaged under the CrPC and would naturally exercise jurisdiction depending upon the exigencies of special investigation”
No woman card
Sibbal had also argued that since Mrs Banerjee is a woman, it is mandatory for ED to interrogate her at her house under Section 160 of CrPC. Citing this reason, he had asserted that she cannot be called to Delhi.
However, Court ordered that in case of woman facing accusation under PMLA, the above privilege does not apply. “The special provision in Section 160 CrPC available to a woman would not apply in view of the overriding provision in Section 71 of the PMLA.” said the Court
Dent to Banerjee’s legacy
Abhishek Banerjee has been promoted as one of the top contenders for being at the helms of affairs at the TMC. In spite of not being much popular amongst the party cadre, Mamata promotes him due to him belonging to her bloodline. Various leaders like Mahua Moitra, Suvendu Adhikary (now in BJP) were ignored to make way for Banerjee.
In the wake of Rahul Gandhi’s failure, most of the people present in political spectrum are circumspect against a nepotistic candidate like Banerjee. The fact that Banerjee sought relief on technical grounds, rather than denying allegations of corruptions will lead to further decrease in his already low support base in TMC.