The Kerala High Court on Thursday, 11 August, said that former Finance Minister of Kerala Thomas Isaac need not appear before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) till next Wednesday, 17 August.
On Wednesday, 10 August, the senior CPI(M) leader moved the high court, seeking the quashing of the two summons issued to him by the ED in connection with its probe into alleged violations in the financial dealings of the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB), when he was the finance minister in the previous LDF (Left Democratic Front) government.
Isaac said that the decision not to appear before the ED was not a personal one. He added that it was taken after discussions and deliberations within the party, which decided to wait for the high court order.
He claimed that the ED probe into the KIIFB had a "clear cut political objective," which, he claimed, was to hamper the development in the southern state.
"They want to create a belief among the public that there are huge irregularities going on in the KIIFB," he alleged.
'Not Going To Comply'
"I am not going to comply with... I have also moved the Kerala High Court to protect my rights. I have requested the HC to restrain the ED from (engaging in) arbitrary actions," Isaac told news agency ANI.
"I have requested the ED to apprise me of the offence that I have committed. They have been inquiring KIIFB for the last two years. And they have not been able to determine the offence committed by the KIIFB," he added.
In his plea to the high court, he sought directions restraining the ED from "enforcing" his personal appearance before them for "an offence that they are not willing to divulge."
He also contended that the "summons are ex-facie illegal and beyond the jurisdiction of the scope of inquiry contemplated under the FEMA since admittedly there is no violation of any provision of the said Act."
The probe agency had served a notice to the senior CPI(M) leader last month, seeking his appearance before it on July 19. However, he did not appear before the ED, saying he had to attend classes at a party-run institute in Thiruvananthapuram.
The leader also alleged that the ED was a political tool of the BJP-ruled Centre, which was attempting to overturn development projects in Kerala and push the state into financial ruin by going after the KIIFB.
'ED Is BJP's Political Tool'
"ED is BJP's political tool. Nothing else. They use ED to isolate, arrest or detain their political opponents or topple state governments ruled by opposition parties. They will do anything without any hesitation," Isaac said while speaking to reporters here.
Meanwhile, the high court asked the probe agency to explain why it has sought documents relating to personal assets of Isaac in connection with the probe into financial transactions of the KIIFB.
Justice G Arun observed that the former finance minister of Kerala has the right to privacy and it cannot be curtailed without following the proper procedure established by law.
Meanwhile, the Kerala High Court on Thursday, 11 August, reserved its order on the joint PIL moved by five LDF MLAs against the ED probe into alleged violations in the financial dealings of the KIIFB.
A bench of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly said it will pass orders on the matter after hearing both sides.
MLAs Who Filed the PIL
CPI(M) MLAs KK Shailaja, IB Sathish, and actor M Mukesh, CPI MLA E Chandrasekharan, and Congress (Secular) MLA Kadannappalli Ramachandran moved the joint plea in the high court against the ED probe.
Advocate VM Krishnakumar, who is representing the MLAs in the matter, as well as senior government pleader Manu V, who appeared for the state, confirmed that the high court has reserved order in the matter.
In the plea, the MLAs have alleged that the ED was carrying out a "fishing and roving exercise" to discredit the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board.
(With inputs from PTI, The News Minute, and Bar and Bench.)
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