Kerala High Court on Wednesday postponed the petition of former Kerala Finance Minister and CPIM Central Committee member, challenging the summons issued by the Enforcement Directorate for interrogation in connection with the financial transactions of the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB).
A single bench of Justice VG Arun today posted it to September 2 after Assistant Solicitor General of India for the Kerala High Court S Manu appeared for ED and sought more time to file a detailed reply.
The petition seeks to quash the ED summons and seeks an interim relief to restrain the ED from initiating any coercive steps against him in furtherance of the summons. However, the court refused to stay the summons till date.
The petition contended that, "without disclosing the real nature of investigation, the petitioner asked to appear on August 11 to explain his role in the KIIFB. Though the summons mentions provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) and the IT Act, it does not reveal what are the violations to which the petitioner is required to respond."
Although the investigation has been ongoing for over one and half years, the ED has yet to file a complaint alleging violations as required by Section 16(3) of the FEMA.
"The attempt of the ED is to initiate a "fishing and roving enquiry" by keeping the petitioner in dark about the real nature of allegations. The fishing a roving enquiry had been time and again deprecated by the Honourable Apex Court. It is trite and settled law that the investigation can only be with regard to any offence," the plea stated.
The plea alleged that the summons was leaked to the media, giving "political overtones" to the issue even before it was served to the petitioner.
"KIIFB is a statutory body under the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Act and petitioner's role has been in accordance with the statutory provisions. The details pertaining to KIIFB and the petitioner's role are available in the public domain," the plea further stated.
It said, "Such unwarranted fishing and roving enquiry into the activities of a body corporate duly incorporated under the relevant statute enacted by the State Legislature, functioning in accordance with the provisions of the said statute as well as other statutes is in violation of the federal structure under the Constitution."
ED had repeatedly summoned the Chief Executive Officer, Deputy Managing Director, Joint Fund Manager and Assistant General Manager of KIIFB over a period of one and a half years starting from March 2021.
As KIIFB is extending financial assistance to various development projects in the State, repeated interference by the ED will affect the body's fund mobilization efforts. ED officials are acting unfairly with mala fide motives and apprehends "unlawful incarceration" at the behest of the agency."
The plea further said the petitioners would suffer severe, irreparable harm if the impugned summonses were upheld since.Thomas Issac previously petitioned the High Court after receiving a summons, and his plea was posted on the 18th of this month in anticipation of the Central Government Counsel's response (CGC). Isaac also filed a motion with the Kerala High Court to overturn the prior summons. (ANI)