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HC Asks Abhishek Banerjee's Wife to Appear Before Customs Authorities

Rujira Naroola, who is a citizen of Thailand, had arrived at the city airport in the early hours of March 16 from Bangkok and was allegedly selected randomly for checking by the Customs officials at the immigration counter.

PTI

Updated:April 4, 2019, 7:01 PM IST
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HC Asks Abhishek Banerjee's Wife to Appear Before Customs Authorities
Rujira Naroola is the wife of Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee (Image: PTI)

Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court on Thursday directed Rujira Naroola, wife of Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee, to appear before the Customs authority on April 8 in compliance with its summons.

The court, however, directed that the Customs authority will not take any coercive step against Naroola.

Naroola, who recently had a face-off with some Customs officials at the NSCBI Airport here on her arrival from Bangkok, moved the high court claiming that the summons by the central government authority was illegal.

Moving the petition for Naroola, senior counsel S N Mookerjee said the authority has no right to issue such summons as the Customs department has not yet framed any issue for summoning her.

As such, the notice is bad in law, Mookerjee claimed before Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj.

Naroola, who is a citizen of Thailand, had arrived at the city airport in the early hours of March 16 from Bangkok and was allegedly selected randomly for checking by the Customs officials at the immigration counter.

She filed a complaint with the NSCBI Airport police station on the same day alleging that she had been deliberately harassed and misbehaved with by the officials.

The Customs authorities also filed a complaint before the NSCBI Airport police station stating that they were prevented from examination of baggage of Naroola and her companion Menka Gambhir, who Naroola said was her sister.

The Customs authorities alleged that they were voluntarily and intentionally obstructed by the two passengers, local police personnel and other unknown persons from exercising their power as conferred under the Customs Act.

Mookerjee submitted before Justice Bharadwaj that the additional chief judicial magistrate of Barrackpore court had ordered the conversion of the complaint into an FIR and begin investigation into her claims.

He submitted that the Customs authorities have no right to issue summons to the complainant on the selfsame ground.

Appearing for the state police authorities, additional advocate general Abhratosh Majumdar argued that the police have already started proceedings in the issue.

As such, law of the land does not permit the Customs authority to initiate another proceedings on it, he said.

Appearing for the Customs, standing counsel for the Centre Ravi Prakash submitted that the central government authority is not considering Naroola as an accused.

Claiming that there are some discrepancies in information declared by her, Prakash said these need to be verified and she has been asked to appear before the joint director of Customs for this purpose.

Hearing all the parties, Justice Bharadwaj directed her to appear before the Customs authority on April 8 as per the summons, while restraining it from taking any coercive step against her till further orders.

The court directed the Customs to file an affidavit on Naroola's claims within three weeks, while she will be at liberty to reply to it within one week after that.

The matter will appear for hearing again in the month of May, the court directed.

Abhishek Banerjee, nephew of party supremo Mamata Banerjee, had on March 23 denied reports in a section of media that two kg gold was seized from his wife's baggage when she landed in the city from Bangkok a few days back.

Terming the allegations as baseless and politically motivated, Banerjee said in a press conference that his wife Rujira Banerjee (nee Naroola) was "not carrying even two grams of gold" or any other dutiable or objectionable item in their baggage.

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