Kolkata, Sep 23 (IANS): West Bengal Law Minister Moloy Ghatak has skipped the summon sent by the Enforcement Directorate for the second in connection with the multi-crore coal smuggling case, citing that he is busy with election work and cannot appear before the probe agency, at least for now.
Ghatak was supposed to be present before the agency at 11 a.m. on Thursday.
In a mail sent to the ED few hours before the scheduled appearance, the minister wrote that as there are bypolls in the state, he is preoccupied with election work for which he won't be able to the appear before the probe agency on Thursday, as scheduled, source close to Ghatak said.
This was the second summon sent to the Law Minister this month. Earlier, he was asked to appear before the agency on September 2, but he avoided the interrogation citing health issues.
At that time, the minister had also said that as he is stationed in Kolkata, and since the ED has an office in the city, the officers can come down to Kolkata and record his statement. The minister also said that he is ready to cooperate with the probe agency.
After Trinamool Congress national General Secretary Abhidhek Banerjee and his wife Rujira Banerjee, Ghatak is the third person to get summon from the central agency investigating the coal scam case.
Though Rujira Banerjee refused to go to Delhi, Abhishek Banerjee went to the ED office in New Delhi on September 6 where he was interrogated for nine hours.
He was again called the next day, but he refused to go. Later, the ED issued a fresh notice and asked him to appear on September 21, which he avoided again.
The case was filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) by the ED after studying a November 2020 FIR lodged by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which alleged a multi-crore coal pilferage scam related to the mines of the Eastern Coalfields Ltd in and around Asansol.
Local state operative Anup Majhi alias Lala is alleged to be the prime suspect in the case.
The ED had earlier claimed that Ghatak was a beneficiary of the funds obtained from this illegal trade. The name of Ghatak came up on several occasions during the interrogations. Apart from the ED, the CBI is also investigating the coal scam.