The Kerala High Court on Tuesday said that it was inappropriate to compel former state Finance Minister Thomas Isaac to respond to Enforcement Directorate summons in connection with an alleged foreign exchange violations case until the Lok Sabha elections were on, Live Law reported.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader is contesting from the Pathanamthitta constituency in the state.

Justice TR Ravi made the observation while responding to a petition moved by Isaac challenging the summons issued against him in a Foreign Exchange Management Act case involving the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board.

The board, which is the primary agency of the Kerala government for financing large infrastructure projects, also filed a separate petition against the summons issued by the Enforcement Directorate to appear before it.

On April 5, Justice Ravi directed the central agency to provide documents proving the allegations against Isaac and convince the court that he had acted illegally.

The central agency submitted the documents on Tuesday, after which the judge said that certain transactions required explanation.

“I have gone through the files placed before me and I do not think it is proper stage to disclose details since these are matters to put to the persons facing investigation,” Ravi said. “However, I find that some transactions require explanations and the manner in which the explanations are received by the ED [Enforcement Directorate] will be considered a later stage since the elections are due and the petitioner [Isaac] is also a candidate.”

The court said that it was not proper to disturb a candidate “who is facing an election for a representation in the Parliament at this stage, particularly because only less than a month is available for completing the elections.”

It then directed the Enforcement Directorate not to summon the former finance minister during the election period, The Indian Express reported. The court also scheduled a hearing for May 22 on the petitions filed by Isaac and the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board in connection with the case.

Polling for the 20 Lok Sabha seats in Kerala will be conducted on April 26. Votes will be counted on June 4.

The case

In 2019, the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board had raised Rs 2,150 crore through its debut masala bond issue as part of its plan to mobilise Rs 50,000 crore to fund projects, The Indian Express reported.

Masala bonds are bonds that are issued outside India but are denominated in Indian rupees. They allow Indian companies to raise capital from foreign investors in Indian currency, and are usually used to fund infrastructure projects.

The Enforcement Directorate had initiated an investigation into whether the Foreign Exchange Management Act was violated in issuing the masala bonds in 2019. Issac was then the Kerala finance minister.