Observing that it is of utmost importance to respect the dignity, especially at the time of the Covid19 pandemic, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday asked the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to defer the summons issued to noted advocate Anand Grover in an alleged money laundering case.
Notably, the ED had issued fresh summons to Grover - husband of senior counsel Indira Jaising, asking him to appear before the central agency on November 26.
A bench of Justices Sambhaji Shinde and Makarand Karnik noted that the Covid situation in Maharashtra and other states have started to worsen.
"You (ED) must consider the fact that Covid19 cases are increasing everywhere in the country. Our own state has now imposed certain restrictions on travel. In such a scenario, you can consider deferring the summons and calling the applicant (Grover) on a later date," Justice Shinde observed.
The observations were made in response to the submissions of additional solicitor general Anil Singh, who appeared for the ED and opposed deferring of summons. The ASG further sought an adjournment to take instructions from the agency to respond to the pleas filed by Grover and his law firm Lawyers' Collective.
Further responding to the ASG, Justice Shinde remarked, "Let us all respect humanity in these troubled times. Let your (ED's) authority in Delhi consider our suggestion, especially while taking into account the present situation."
Having said so, the judges adjourned the matter for further hearing till Wednesday, when it has ordered the anti money laundering agency to spell out its stand on the issue.
The judges were dealing with a plea filed by Grover and his firm Lawyers' Collective challenging the fresh summons issued to them in a 2019 alleged money laundering case. The advocate is accused of breaching the provisions of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA).
The plea filed through advocate Rahul Kamerkar termed the fresh summons as a speculative roving and fishing inquiry.
The law firm and its trustees started facing legal problems way back in 2016 after the Union ministry of Home Affairs, cancelled their FCRA registration, citing numerous irregularities.
Subsequently, in June 2019, the CBI registered a case against the firm and also its trustees on corruption charges coupled with FCRA violations. The CBI action was followed with the ED registering a separate case under the stringent prevention of money laundering act (PMLA) and has since been issuing summons to them.