The Supreme Court has allowed the Enforcement Directorate to interrogate Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee in an alleged coal theft case in West Bengal.
The Supreme Court told the Bengal government to cooperate with the central probe agency and provide protection to its officials when they are in the state to question Mr Banerjee, the nephew of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
The probe agency must tell Abhishek Banerjee at least 24 hours before they intend to question him in state capital Kolkata, according to the Supreme Court.
The Enforcement Directorate has been allowed to come to the Supreme Court if the investigators ran into any “obstruction” linked to the Bengal government. The Supreme Court bench of Justice UU Lalit said it won’t “tolerate any kind of obstruction and interference by the state machinery.”
Mr Banerjee had asked for questioning in his home state and not in Delhi, where the probe agency has its headquarters. Mr Banerjee’s party colleagues and the Chief Minister have often accused the BJP-led centre of using probe agencies to harass Trinamool leaders.
A bailable warrant issued by a Delhi court against Mr Banerjee’s wife, Rujira Banerjee, on a complaint by the probe agency for not answering summons, has also been stayed by the Supreme Court. Rujira Banerjee is one of the accused in the money laundering case linked to the Bengal coal scam.
For long, the BJP has accused Abhishek Banerjee, the MP from Diamond Harbour, of involvement in the coal scam. The party has dubbed him the “coal thief”.
The Enforcement Directorate is pursuing the case against the Banerjee couple under India’s anti-money laundering law based on a First Information Report, or FIR, filed in November 2020 by the Central Bureau of Investigation, which alleged a multi-crore coal pilferage linked to mines of Eastern Coalfields Ltd in Bengal’s Kunustoria and Kajora, near Asansol district.