The Delhi High Court Tuesday said it will hear in November the Enforcement Directorate's plea seeking quashing of two notices issued against its officers by West Bengal Police on an FIR lodged by Trinamool MP Abhishek Banerjee.
Justice Yogesh Khanna listed the petition for further hearing on November 12.
At the outset, advocate Amit Mahajan, representing the ED, said other related matters are coming up for hearing on Friday and that this petition be also taken up then.
The court said however that it will hear the plea on November 12.
West Bengal Police is acting at the behest of Ms Banerjee who "enjoys clout" in the state government, to derail the probe into an alleged coal pilferage scam, the ED has alleged, seeking a direction to quash the notices issued against its officers pursuant to an FIR lodged by Ms Banerjee in April.
The FIR was lodged under the Indian Penal Code for alleged commission of offences of forgery of records, forgery for harming reputation and defamation.
The West Bengal government, represented by senior advocate Sidharth Luthra, has contended that the plea was not maintainable and that how the ED can file a petition in Delhi High Court for a relief which relates to an FIR lodged in West Bengal.
The ED has contended that the notices issued on July 22 and August 21, pursuant to the FIR are patently illegal, malafide and a "counter blast" to the investigation in the coal pilferage case.
The ED, in its petition before the high court, said that in order to pressurise its officers probing the case under Prevention of Money Laundering Act, Ms Banerjee, who is the nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee and under scanner in the case, lodged an FIR in April.
The ED has sought a direction to quash two notices issued against its officers and any other subsequent notices that may be issued in the FIR, saying that they amount to an abuse of process of law.
The petition said that pursuant to this FIR, two notices were issued by the Sub Inspector, Special Cell (GS), DD of Kalighat Police Station, Kolkata to ED officers performing their statutory functions in the Headquarters in Delhi.
The complainant in the instant FIR is a political heavy weight and enjoys clout in the West Bengal government. The West Bengal Police is acting at his behest to derail the investigation being carried out by Enforcement Directorate, the plea said.
"It is pertinent to mention that the investigation into the illegal coal mining and the role of the complainant therein Abhishek Banerjee is being investigated by the Directorate of Enforcement in exercise of its statutory powers under PMLA in the Headquarters at New Delhi," it added.
The petition said that based on "reasonable belief and evidence", the probe agency issued summons to Ms Banerjee for his appearance on three occasions, out of which he appeared only once on September 6.
"In order to pressurise the petitioners/ IOs investigating the case related to illegal coal mining, Abhishek Banerjee lodged an FIR on April 5, 2021, against a news channel and in furtherance of the same, notices have been issued to the IOs investigating the case of illegal coal mining by the West Bengal Police. The said FIR has been registered with a malafide intention to derail the investigation under PMLA being conducted by the Directorate of Enforcement," the plea said.
It alleged that the issuance of notices against ED officers is "mala fide and with the oblique motive and intent at stifling the fair and impartial investigation being undertaken by Enforcement Directorate for unearthing large financial scams/ frauds taking place in the State of West Bengal and the country".
It also claimed that the motive behind registration of the FIR and the subsequent issuance of notices is "only to harass the officers of the Directorate and to use the State Police Machinery to halt the investigation being conducted by the officers of the Directorate against highly placed persons in the State Government of West Bengal and their suspected role in the offence of money laundering".
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