The Supreme Court Friday ordered that no coercive action should be taken for three more weeks by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against Nalini Chidambaram, wife of former Union minister P Chidambaram, in a Saradha chit fund scam case.
The order extending the relief was given by a bench of Justices U U Lalit and Ashok Bhushan after it was told by the ED that it needed 10 days to file a reply to Ms Nalini's plea challenging the dismissal of her petition by the Madras High Court against summons in the case.
Additional Solicitor General Vikramjeet Banerjee, appearing for ED, said the reply would be filed in 10 days time.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Ms Nalini, said he also needed time to file a rejoinder to the ED's reply.
"Interim order to continue. Reply to be filed in two weeks and rejoinder in one week thereafter," the bench said and posted the matter for further hearing after three weeks.
The top court had on August 3 restrained the ED from taking any coercive action against Nalini Chidambaram. It had issued notice to the ED on her plea challenging the dismissal of her petition by the High Court.
The Madras High Court had on July 10 dismissed an appeal by Nalini against a single-judge bench's order rejecting her plea challenging the ED summons.
The high court had said that Section 50(2) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) gave sufficient ammunition to an authority to summon any person whose attendance was considered necessary for investigation.
It had also rejected her contention that women cannot be called for investigation out of their place of residence under CrPC Section 160, saying she was not entitled to invoke the section.
The ED had issued the first summons on September 7, 2016, asking her to appear before it at its Kolkata office. It subsequently issued fresh summons after the single judge's order.
Ms Nalini was allegedly paid a legal fee of Rs 1 crore by the Saradha group for her appearances in court and the Company Law Board over a television channel purchase deal.
In the appeal, she had contended that if the trend of summoning and calling advocates who have been engaged by their clients for rendering professional services was not nipped in the bud, it may lead to "disastrous consequences".
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