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SC won't meddle with HC order involving Trinamool leader's wife


New Delhi, July 04: The Supreme Court has refused to interfere with the Calcutta High Court order which put in abeyance the summons issued by the Customs Department against Trinamool Congress lawmaker Abhishek Banerjee's wife Rujira Naroola.

The department had issued notice asking Naroola to appear before it for allegedly obstructing its officers from checking her baggage at Kolkata airport on her arrival from Bangkok on March 16 on a Thai Airways flight.

File photo of Supreme Court

The High Court on April 8 had directed the Customs authorities not to take any coercive steps against Naroola till July 31 when it will take up for hearing the petition filed by her challenging the provision of the Customs Act under which the notice was issued to her on March 26.

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"We are not inclined to interfere with the High Court's order," said a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose.

The bench did not agree with Solicitor General Tushar Mehta's argument seeking stay of the High Court order.

The judges said Customs Department have to wait as the High Court has said it will examine the legality of summons issued under section 108 of the Act. "We are asking the High Court to decide the issue expeditiously," the bench said.

A division bench of the High Court had directed the joint commissioner of Customs to extend the date of summons after July 31 to enable the single bench to decide Naroola's petition challenging the summons.

The single bench had asked Naroola, who is a citizen of Thailand, to appear before the Customs Assistant Commissioner in compliance with the summons, while asking the central government authority to not take any coercive action against her.

She challenged the order before the division bench contending that the summons were illegal.

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The Customs authority had submitted that Ms Naroola had refused to get her baggage examined on arrival from Bangkok and had alleged that X-ray of the bags at the airport showed presence of gold.

The department claimed that local police was called in by Ms Naroola, who entered a restricted area and escorted her away from the airport. 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 on March 22 stating that they were prevented from examining the baggage of Naroola and her companion Menka Gambhir, who Naroola said was her sister.

Abhishek Banerjee, nephew of party supremo Mamata Banerjee, had on March 23 denied reports in a section of media that 2 kg gold was found in his wife's baggage.

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