Synopsis: The Court noted that the virus is spreading and the scenario has to be taken into account, while hearing the plea against the ED summons issued to Senior Advocate Anand Grover as Lawyers Collective trustee.
In connection with a money laundering case, the Bombay High Court today asked the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to consider deferring the summons issued to Senior Advocate Anand Grover in his capacity as the Trustee of the NGO, the Lawyers Collective.
Lawyers Collective’s plea sought to quash and set aside the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) registered by the ED under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and the report’s consequential summons and investigation.
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh appeared today for the ED and sought time to respond to the petition challenging the summons issued to them.
Appearing for the petitioners, Senior Advocate Amit Desai informed the Court that the summons directed their appearance before the ED on 26 November 2020, in Delhi.
In turn, the Bench of Justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik directed the ED’s lawyer to take directions as to whether the summons could be deferred for some more time. The Court observed orally that the virus is spreading and they have to take the scenario into account. The petitioner is around 80 years old and has been tested positive for COVID. They need humanity to be respected.
The Court added that the case also needs to be taken into account, but taking into consideration the situation in its State and the increasing cases in Delhi, the summons may be deferred by its authority (to ASG).
The Court gave ASG time to seek the ED’s instructions and thereafter, fixed the matter for tomorrow’s hearing.
Grover was summoned to produce records of accounts relating to a foreign contribution to his NGO.
The ECIR was filed in 2019 on the basis of a FIR registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation alleging that the NGO violated the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act provision.
The present plea also challenges through Advocate Rahul Kamerkar, the authority of the ED to register the ECIR in Delhi when the FIR was registered by the CBI in Mumbai, where the NGO’s registered office is located.