Home / News / India /  Calcutta HC dismisses contempt plea against ED by MP Abhishek Banerjee's kin

The Calcutta high court on Friday rejected the petition of Menaka Gandhi, sister-in-law of TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee, against the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Immigration Officer at Kolkata airport for the court of contempt as she was stopped from visiting Thailand to see her ailing mother. She claimed that despite the high court order in which the court asked ED to not take any coercive action against her, she was detained at the airport.

In connection with the alleged coal smuggling scam, she was served with a summons at the airport to appear before the ED office in Kolkata on September 12 at 12.30 a.m.

The agency later admitted that the document had been typed incorrectly and corrected the time to 12.30 p.m. on that date.

"This Court is not inclined to accept that the alleged contemnors have caused any willful or deliberate violation of the directions passed by this Court in the order dated 30.8.2022 in detaining the petitioner and preventing the petitioner from traveling outside India," Justice Moushumi Bhattacharya said while dismissing the contempt petition.

Gambhir's lawyer claimed that her detention at the airport and not allowing her to travel to Thailand to see her ailing mother amounts to coercive action.

To which the ED's counsels contended that the acts did not constitute willful disobedience of the high court's order as a lookout circular for the petitioner dated 25 March was to remain in effect until the Bureau of Immigration received a deletion request.

The Immigration Officer's counsel claimed that the official was not a party to the original petition on which the 30 August order was passed and thus had no knowledge of it.

The High Court also observed that “coercive action" generally means acts of arrest or confinement.

"Shorn of any underlying motives ascribed to the actions of the ED, the petitioner’s detention at the Kolkata airport and disallowing her from travel does not amount to coercive steps as meant in the order passed by this Court on 30.8.2022," Justice Bhattacharya observed.

Menaka Gambhir had challenged the ED summons to appear before it on 5 September in Delhi in the alleged case of coal smuggling. She asked the court to direct the agency to question her at their regional office in Kolkata, where she claimed to reside.

Justice Bhattacharya directed the ED on 30 August to question Gambhir at its regional office in Kolkata but not take any coercive action against her, until the next date of hearing.

With Inputs from PTI

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