calcutta high court

Calcutta High Court: A single-judge bench comprising of Jay Sengupta,* J., dismissed the petitioner’s application to quash the summons and directed the petitioner to cooperate with the Enforcement Directorate’s proceedings.

“It will be too much to ask the authorities to record reasons at every stage even while issuing summons in terms of Section 50 of the PMLA Act.”

Brief Facts

The instant matter involves an application under Article 226 of the Constitution of India filed by the petitioner, seeking to quash an impugned summons dated 17-08-2023, issued by the Enforcement Directorate in relation. The petitioner also sought directions to prevent coercive measures against him regarding the summons.

Moot Point

  1. Whether the petitioner’s apprehension of coercive action is justified?

  2. Is the petitioner obligated to comply with the summons issued by the Enforcement Directorate?

  3. Whether the petitioner’s medical condition should impact the extent and nature of his cooperation?

Parties' Contentions

The petitioner, not being an accused, argues against the necessity of attending the summons in person. It was contended that due to diverse ailments and the sale of the company of which he was a director, the petitioner is unable to produce the documents requested. It was further contended that most of the requested records are already with the Enforcement Directorate, and any additional documents have been disclosed in the writ petition.

The Enforcement Directorate contended that the summons clearly requires the petitioner’s personal appearance, not just document production and the petitioner’s obligation extend beyond document submission as he is also required to provide evidence.

Court's Analysis

The Court acknowledges the Enforcement Directorate’s authority to arrest but observed that this is not a directly relevant issue in this case. It was observed that the petitioner was summoned to both produce documents and provide evidence under Section 50 of the PMLA Act. The Court opined that if the petitioner cannot produce certain documents due to his change in company association, he can address this matter with the authorities.

While acknowledging the petitioner’s health concerns, the Court held that there is no reason for the petitioner to be exempt from cooperating with the proceedings. The Court emphasizes that it is not necessary for authorities to provide reasons at every stage of issuing summons under Section 50 of the PMLA Act.

The Court observed that the petitioner’s apprehension of coercive action lacked merit, and no patent illegality in the summons issuance was established. Relying on Neeharika Infrastructure (P) Ltd., 2021 SCC Online 315, the Court opined that the exceptional relief of ‘no coercive action' was not warranted in this case

Court's Verdict

The Court directed the petitioner to cooperate with the Enforcement Directorate and appropriately respond to the summons. Considering the petitioner’s health condition, the Court directed that any interrogation should not exceed four hours in a day. The petitioner was directed to attend the Enforcement Directorate’s office on the same day at 2 PM.

The court concludes that the writ petition lacks merit and is consequently dismissed without costs.

[Pritimoy Chakraborty v. Union of India, W.P.A. 20644of 2023, order dated 25-08-2023]

*Judgment by Justice Jay Sengupta

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya, Sr.Adv, Mr. Subhankar Nag, Ms. Sayanti Sengupta, Mr. Jamiruddin Khan, Counsel for the Petitioner

Mr. Arijit Chakrabarti, Mr. Deepak Sharma, Counsel for the Enforcement Directorate

Mr. Billwadal Bhattacharyya, Ld. DSGI, Mr. Tirtha Pati Acharyya, Counsel for the Union of India

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