The Madras High Court has dismissed a plea filed by former Finance Minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram's wife Nalini Chidambaram seeking quashing of the summons issued by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to appear as a witness in the money laundering probe in the Saradha Chit Fund scam case.
In her plea, Nalini Chidambaram, a Supreme Court lawyer, said that the ED could not summon a woman for investigation out of her place of residence under Section 60 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Justice S M Subramaniam, who heard the petition, rejected her claim, saying exemptions were not mandatory.
“This court is of the opinion that based on gender, exemption cannot be sought for in a routine manner,” the court said in his 145-page order, asking the ED to issue a fresh summons and proceed with it in accordance with law.
“It is not as if there is a total and absolute exemption of the appearance before the Investigating Officer,” the court said.
The ED summoned Nalini Chidambaram in 2016, asking her to appear as a witness in the Saradha Chit Fund scam case in its Kolkatta office. The summons issued by the ED were based on the statement given by Manoranjana Sinh, an accused in the scam case. According to Sinha, Nalini Chidambaram was paid Rs 1 crore by the Saradha Group to in court in connection with the purchase of a TV channel.
"The agency believed that the fee was paid out of public money, funds collected from public as chits", the ED had told the Madras High Court.