HC refuses to quash summons against WB minister Moloy Ghatak

 The Delhi High Court on Friday refused to quash the summons issued to West Bengal Law Minister Moloy Ghatak by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with its probe into the coal pilferage case in the state.

While dealing with 67-year-old Ghatak’s plea to direct the ED not to summon him to Delhi, the court noted that the probe agency was earlier asked to consider calling him at its Kolkata office, keeping in mind his age and medical condition.

Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma, in an order, directed that the ED will be at the liberty to require the attendance of the petitioner in its Kolkata office by giving at least 24 hours’ notice.

The high court said 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 the petitioner, and to avoid any difficulty or obstruction or interference with the officers of Directorate of Enforcement”.

“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,” it said.

The high court said there was no ground to either quash the summons issued to Ghatak, a TMC MLA from Asansol Uttar, or the ECIR registered by the ED.

The court was hearing Ghatak’s plea seeking to quash the ECIR and summons issued to him, and also directing the agency not to summon him to Delhi.

The court also noted that Ghatak has not appeared before the ED on 11 out of 12 occasions.

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It said the petitioner had argued that he was being sent repeated summons and the ED be restrained from sending summons in the future. However, it is rather surprising that Ghatak himself has not appeared before the agency on 11 occasions out of 12 to give information that it is seeking, the high court said.

“In such circumstances, when he himself has not appeared before the ED except once, such relief cannot even be considered by this court, at this stage,” Justice Sharma said.

In November 2020, a case was registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), ACB, Kolkata, against several persons for the alleged offences of criminal conspiracy and criminal breach of trust by public servant under the IPC and the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption 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.

Thereafter, a case was registered by the ED under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

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