ED seeks withdrawal of arrest shield from Maneka Gambhir in Calcutta HC

by IANS |

Kolkata, Nov 10 (IANS) The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday approached a division bench of the Calcutta High Court seeking the withdrawal of protection from arrest granted to Maneka Gambhir, sister-in-law of Trinamool Congress's national general secretary, Abhishek Banerjee, by a single judge bench of the same court earlier.

In August, Calcutta High Court's single judge bench of Justice Mousumi Bhattacharya allowed the ED to question Gambhir here in connection with the agency's ongoing probe in the multi-crore coal smuggling scam, but not to take a coercive action against her.

On Thursday afternoon, the ED challenged that shield granted by the single judge bench at the Calcutta High Court's division bench of Justice Prakash Srivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharwadwaj. The matter will be heard on November 16.

The ED had initially summoned Gambhir to New Delhi for questioning in the matter. However, she challenged that summon in the single judge bench of Justice Bhattacharya where she prayed for being questioned in Kolkata where she resides. The single judge bench accepted her plea but with the shield and accordingly she was questioned by the central agency sleuths in Kolkata.

Meanwhile, on October 31, Maneka Gambhir made a fresh application to the Calcutta High Court's bench of Justice Rajasekhar Mantha for permission to travel to Bangkok to attend her ailing mother there. Earlier, On October 17, she appealed to the vacation bench for permission to travel to Bangkok. However, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) opposed the request on grounds that another single judge bench of the court had already refused to entertain a similar plea.

On the night of September 10, the Immigration Department at the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata did not allow Gambhir to board a flight to the Thai capital due to a lookout notice issued against her by the ED.

In response, she filed a contempt of court petition against the probe agency at the single judge bench of Justice Moushumi Bhattacharya.

Her contention was that when there was a prior court order barring the central agency from adopting any cohesive action against her, such a refusal amounted to contempt of court.

However on September 30, Justice Bhattacharya's bench dismissed the contempt of court petition and observed that neither the ED nor the Immigration Department had resorted to any sort of contempt of court by denying her the permission to board the flight.

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