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TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee's Wife Need Not Appear Before Customs Till July 31: HC

Ruchira Naroola, who is a citizen of Thailand, was asked to appear before an assistant commissioner on Monday at 12 noon in connection with her alleged intentional obstruction of customs officers from checking her baggage at the Kolkata airport on her arrival from Bangkok on March 16.

Prema Rajaram | CNN-News18

Updated:April 8, 2019, 6:47 PM IST
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TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee's Wife Need Not Appear Before Customs Till July 31: HC
Rujira Naroola is the wife of Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee (Image: PTI)

Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court on Monday directed that Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee's wife Rujira Naroola will not have to appear before the Customs authorities on its summons till July 31.

The division bench of Calcutta High Court set aside the single bench order of April 4 which asked Naroola to appear before the Customs authorities on 8th April. Rujira had approached the division bench on Monday against the single bench order. The division bench then extended the day for questioning after July 31.

Naroola, who is a citizen of Thailand, was asked to appear before an assistant commissioner on Monday at 12 noon in connection with her alleged intentional obstruction of Customs officers from checking her baggage at the Kolkata airport on her arrival from Bangkok on March 16 in a Thai Airways flight.

The single bench of Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj had directed Naroola to appear before the Customs assistant commissioner in compliance with its summons issued on March 26, while asking the central government authority to not take any coercive action against her.

Naroola challenged the order, through her counsel Ahin Chowdhury, before the division bench comprising Justices I P Mukerji and Md Nizamuddin claiming that the summons was illegal and prayed for a stay on it.

The division bench observed in its order that there was no allegation made of any illegal importation of gold in the complaint filed by Customs seven days after the incident took place at the airport.

Appearing for the Customs authority, additional solicitor general Aman Lekhi submitted that Naroola had refused to get her baggage examined on arrival from Bangkok.

Submitting that the baggage was allowed to be examined after persuasion, Lekhi said x-ray of the bags at the airport showed presence of gold.

At that time, local police was called in by Naroola, who entered a restricted area and escorted her away from the airport.

Countering customs' claims, Rujira had also filed an FIR on March 16 alleging harassment by Customs authorities and that they demanded Rs.50,000 from her.

Abhishek Banerjee, nephew of party supremo Mamata Banerjee, has however rubbished these claims and challenged Customs officials to show CCTV footage of his wife’s non-cooperation. The TMC MP also denies claims of Police interference in the functioning of Customs officials.

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

Meanwhile,the additional solicitor general has said that there is no politics behind the summons issued to Naroola and that the Customs wants to do a proper inquiry only.

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