Kolkata, April 4 (IANS) The Calcutta High Court on Thursday ordered Rujira Naroola, Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee’s wife, to present herself before the Customs authority on April 8 as per its summons, but restrained the Central government department from taking any coercive action against her.
Abhishek Banerjee is a nephew of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Naroola had an argument with the Customs authorities on the intervening night of March 15-16 at the NSCBI Airport on her return from Thailand.
Naroola filed a petition in the High Court, arguing that the summons notice slapped on her by the Customs authority was illegal.
Senior counsel S.N. Mookerjee, who moved the petition on behalf of Naroola, claimed as the Customs department was yet to frame any issue for summoning her, the notice of summons was bad in law.
Naroola, a Thai citizen, as also another woman were “randomly selected considering their movements and profile” for checking after they landed from Bangkok.
On March 16, she lodged a complaint with the NSCBI police station alleging she was “harassed and heckled” by the Customs authorities. The complaint was later converted into an FIR as per a directive by the court of additional chief judicial magistrate of Barrackpore following a preliminary inquiry.
The Customs officials lodged a complaint at the NSCBI Airport police station alleging they were “voluntarily and intentionally obstructed by the two women and local police from discharging their functions under the Customs Act.
On the other hand, representing the Customs, Centre’s standing counsel Ravi Prakash argued that Ruchira was not being considered an accused, but has been asked to appear before the joint director of Customs to clear discrepancies in her declaration.
After hearing all sides, the judge asked Rujira to present herself before the Customs Authority on April 8 in compliance with the summons issues by it, but also barred the agency from taking any coercive action against her till further orders.
The Customs Authority has been ordered to file an affidavit on Naroola’s claims within three weeks. Naroola can reply within one week thereafter.
The court said the next hearing will be in May.
Describing as “baseless allegations that his wife Rujira was caught at the airport for carrying gold in her checked-in baggage, Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee, nephew of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, had told the media on March 24 that a complaint filed by the Customs authority alleging interference and obstruction by the local police was drafted in a Delhi and “highly politically motivated”.
Challenging the Customs authorities to prove that his wife was carrying even two grams of gold after reaching the airport from Bangkok, Banerjee had declared he would leave politics if there was any wrongdoing on her part.