Kolkata High Court on Thursday allowed TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee and his wife Rujira, who were interrogated by Enforcement Directorate in connection with a coal smuggling case, to travel to Dubai for medical treatment.
The court held that the investigating agency's apprehension that they may flee away has no ground.
Justice Bibek Chaudhuri said that right to life is the most fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution and it includes right to get proper medical treatment.
"Considering the application purely on humanitarian ground, this Court permits the petitioner no.1 (Abhishek Banerjee) and his wife (Rujira Banerjee) to visit Moorfields Eye Hospital, Dubai, United Arab Emirates during the period between 2nd June, 2022 and 10th June, 2022," Justice Chaudhuri directed.
He directed them to submit to the ED copies of their air tickets and the address where they will stay in Dubai during the period with the phone numbers of the hospital so that the agency can keep track of their whereabouts.
Expressing apprehension that Mr Banerjee and his wife may flee if allowed to visit Dubai, Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, who represented the ED, opposed the prayer by them to be allowed to go abroad.
The HC said prima facie there is no ground for such apprehension by the ED.
It said that a person cannot be forced or compelled for medical treatment in a particular country if he feels that it will be more effective in a medical facility in a foreign country.
"If a patient has means, he is at liberty to go to a doctor or to a hospital of his own choice. The state cannot restrict a patient from getting proper medical treatment of his choice," the court said.
The counsel for Abhishek Banerjee submitted that he wrote a letter to the ED assistant director on May 31 stating that he is suffering from eye ailment as well as neurofibroma for which he is undergoing medical treatment.
Mr Banerjee prayed that his personal attendance before the ED may be excused for the time being since he may have to travel abroad for medical treatment. His counsel S Basu submitted that Mr Banerjee is suffering from eye ailment since long following an accident.
He said Mr Banerjee is under medical treatment at Moorfields Eye Hospital at Dubai, United Arab Emirates and that he received information that his appointment for eye check up is fixed on June 3 and air tickets for himself and his wife were booked.
He submitted that on May 31, 2022, Mr Banerjee had informed about it in a letter to the ED, which disallowed the request to travel abroad on the apprehension that he may flee.
The ASG submitted before the court that the petitioners were interrogated and are sought to be done so again is a case of smuggling from unauthorised coalfields in West Bengal.
Mr Raju said that the prime accused in the case, Binoy Mishra had fled the country in November, 2020 and is reportedly staying in Dubai. He alleged that the petitioners are intending to go there to meet Mr Mishra to destroy the evidence and materials involved in the case.
Abhishek and Rujira Banerjee had moved Supreme Court, which had directed that it will be open to ED to require attendance of the petitioners in its office situated at Kolkata by giving at least 24 hours' notice.
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