The Supreme Court on Friday restrained the Enforcement Directorate from taking coercive action against Nalini Chidambaram, wife of former Union Minister P. Chidambaram, in the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam.
A bench of Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan also sought a response from ED and stayed a Madras High Court division bench's July 10 order that refused to quash the summons issued to Nalini Chidambaram by the investigating agency.
She has challenged the order in the apex court. Earlier, a single Judge of the High Court too had rejected her plea against the ED summons.
The ED had directed her to appear as a witness in its probe into alleged money laundering in the scam, in which several key politicians were said to be involved.
The agency had issued the summons on September 7, 2016, as Nalini Chidambaram's name was mentioned in a letter of Saradha scam "mastermind" Sudipta Sen to the Central Bureau of Investigation in April 2013.
Nalini Chidambaram, a senior advocate, was allegedly paid a legal fee of Rs 1 crore by the Saradha Group for her appearances in court and the Company Law Board in a case pertaining to a television channel purchase deal.
If the trend of summoning and calling advocates who have been engaged by their clients for rendering professional services was not nipped in the bud, it may lead to disastrous consequences, she had contended in the High Court.
The ED summons, issued under Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, required Nalini Chidambaram to appear before an authorised ED officer at its Kolkata office.