The Supreme Court on Friday 14 September extended the interim relief granted to senior advocate Nalini Chidambaram, wife of former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, from appearing as a witness before Enforcement Directorate (ED) which is probing the Saradha chit fund scam, News 18 reported.
The order was an extension of the apex court’s pronouncement on 3 August, when it had issued a notice to ED and restrained the agency from taking any coercive action against Chidambaram. Back then, the SC had denied the ED’s request to interrogate Chidambaram in relation to the case, and instructed the ED to reply to Chidambaram’s plea by 14 September.
During the hearing on 14 September, however, the ED sought an additional three weeks’ time to submit its reply. The apex court said that the matter will be taken up again after three weeks, and extended the interim relief till this time.
The ED had issued its first summons on 7 September 2016, asking Chidambaram to travel to Kolkata to appear before its Kolkata office for interrogation in the Saradha chit fund scam, PTI reported.
Chidambaram had challenged the ED summons in the Madras High Court, arguing that a woman cannot be called for investigation outside the city/town/village of her residence under Section 160 of the CrPC.
After the single judge hearing her plea rejected it, Chidambaram appealed to a division bench (two-judge bench) of the Madras High Court. The division bench also rejected her plea on 10 July 2018.
The judges clarified that the restriction in the CrPC on calling a woman outside her place of residence was overriden under Section 50 (2) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). They said this provision gives the investigating authority the power to summon any person whose attendance was considered necessary for investigation, regardless of gender.
Status Quo: SC Stays Madras High Court’s Order
A Supreme Court bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan had on 3 August issued notice to the ED on Chidambaram’s plea challenging the dismissal of her petition by the Madras High Court against her summons in the Saradha chit fund case, PTI reported.
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