Won't summon BRS MLC Kavitha for questioning until next hearing: ED promises Apex Court

ED informed the bench that it would not insist on Kavitha's appearance before the agency for 10 days or until the court hears her petition.

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NEW DELHI: In a slight relief for Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) MLC K Kavitha, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has conveyed to the Supreme Court that it will not insist on her appearance for questioning in the Delhi liquor scam case until the court hears her petition opposing the summons and the ED's actions. The ED's stand came on Friday, a day after Kavitha was summoned for questioning to the ED office in New Delhi.

Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, representing the ED, apprised a bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Sudhanshu Dhulia on Friday that Kavitha had appeared before the agency in March, 2023. He argued that there was, therefore, no need for a protective order.

Kavitha's lawyer Vikram Choudhury objected to this submission, pointing out that the court had previously granted similar protection to individuals, including Nalini Chidambaram. In 2018, the court restrained the ED from summoning Nalini Chidambaram, senior advocate and wife of former Union Minister P Chidambaram, in a ponzi scam case.

Choudhury urged the bench to extend similar protection to Kavitha, contending that there was no reason for his client to be treated differently. The senior counsel asserted that Kavitha should not be subjected to repeated summons. Choudhury noted that Kavitha's petition against the summons and her request for protection from arrest in the money laundering case arising from the alleged scam were still pending.

The bench inquired whether the agency was prepared to postpone the summons on its own or if it required a court order to do so. Raju informed the bench that the ED would not insist on Kavitha's appearance before the agency for 10 days or until the court hears her petition.

Kavitha had approached the court in March, challenging the ED's summons and sought protection from possible coercive actions. Her petition raised questions about whether a woman could be summoned to the ED office for questioning under Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). It referenced the pending pleas of Nalini Chidambaram and Trinamool Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee regarding the applicability of Section 50.

The ED has argued that Section 50 of PMLA proceedings was an inquiry conducted under the anti-money laundering law's procedure, and thus, the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code did not apply until a person is arrested. A comprehensive hearing on the matter is yet to take place.

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