NEW DELHI: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) Tuesday told the Delhi High Court that the claim of TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee’s wife, who had sought exemption from appearance in pursuance to one of the summons issued in a money laundering case on the ground that she was in Patna was false as the agency has proof that she was in a beauty parlour in the national capital on the day when she had to appear for the probe.
However, the agency’s claim was refuted by the counsel for Banerjee’s wife Rujira Banerjee who said she had visited a beauty parlour in Delhi but not on the day on which she was to appear in compliance of the ED summons.
The claims were made before Justice Yogesh Khanna who was hearing a plea by west Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee and his wife seeking quashing of summons issued by the ED in the money laundering case linked to an alleged coal scam in West Bengal.
Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, representing the ED, said, “We have evidence to show that the date when his wife replied to us saying she can’t come to Delhi and appear before us, she was in a beauty parlour in Delhi. We have the proof.”
Without specifying the date, he said the woman claimed she was in Patna but she was in Delhi.
“If she can come to Delhi for beauty parlour, she can also come for the investigation. But, unfortunately our office does not have the same services as that of a beauty parlour,” the ASG added.
The submission was objected to by senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who was appearing for the Banerjee couple, saying such a kind of argument was not expected from the agency and added that the woman was in Delhi on another day and not on the day when the ED officials had called her for questioning.
“That was some other day. Why are they bringing extraneous issues before this court,” he argued.
Abhishek Banerjee, nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and his wife have challenged the September 10 summons asking them to appear before agency’s office in Delhi on September 21 and also sought to direct the ED not to summon them for their appearance in Delhi.
The 33-year-old MP represents the Diamond Harbour seat in Lok Sabha and is the national general secretary of the Trinamool Congress (TMC).
The ED lodged a case under the provisions of the PMLA on the basis of a November 2020 FIR registered by the CBI that alleged a multi-crore coal pilferage scam related to Eastern Coalfields Ltd mines in the state’s Kunustoria and Kajora areas in and around Asansol.
Local coal operative Anup Majhi alias Lala is alleged to be the prime suspect in the case.
The ED had claimed that the TMC MP was a beneficiary of funds obtained from this illegal trade.
He has denied all charges.