In fresh trouble for the family of former finance minister P Chidambaram, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has summoned his wife Nalini in connection with its money laundering probe into the Saradha ponzi scam.
Officials said Nalini has been summoned at the Kolkata office of the central probe agency on May 7. The agency wants to record her statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) with regard to a specific link of her in this case, they said.
The Madras High Court had last week dismissed a petition by Nalini in which she had challenged these ED summons to her to appear as a witness in this case.
Justice SM Subramaniam had rejected Nalini’s contention that women cannot be called for investigation out of their place of residence under CrPC Section 160 (police officer’ s power to require attendance of witnesses), saying such exemptions are not mandatory and are subject to facts and circumstances of a case.
Holding that such an exemption was not provided under the PMLA, the judge directed the Enforcement Directorate to issue fresh summons fixing a date for the investigation and proceed with it in accordance with law.
The ED had first issued the summons on September 7, 2016 asking Nalini, a senior lawyer, to appear at its Kolkata office as a witness in the Saradha chit fund scam. She was allegedly paid a legal fee of Rs 1.26 crore by the Saradha group for her appearances in court and the Company Law Board over a television channel purchase deal.
She had earlier been questioned by the ED and CBI in this regard but agency sources had claimed that she was being summoned in the “light of new evidence”. During the hearings at the Madras HC, Nalini had contended that the summons was “purely politically motivated to damage her reputation.”
Pointing out that receiving fee by a counsel for representing an accused was not an offence, she had said every lawyer who appears for a suspect in criminal cases charges professional fee.
The ED had filed a charge sheet in this case in a special PMLA court in Kolkata in 2016.
Nalini’s son Karti is already being investigated by the ED in two separate money laundering cases of the Aircel-Maxis deal and the INX Media case and he has been questioned multiple times by the agency in context of these cases.