Monday, Oct 03, 2022

West Bengal Scam: Judicial Custody Of Partha Chatterjee, Arpita Mukherjee Extended By 14 Days

The ED claims to have recovered over Rs 50 crore in cash and jewellery from Arpita Mukherjee's properties, a close aide of Partha Mukherjee.

Former West Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee and close aide Arpita Mukherjee
Former West Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee and close aide Arpita Mukherjee Twitter/Suvendu Adhikari

A special court on Thursday extended the judicial demand of former West Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee and his suspected close aide Arpita Mukherjee by 14 days. 

Both Chatterjee and Mukherjee are in the custody of Enforcement Directorate (ED) since July 23 when it arrested them in the West Bengal school recruitment scam. While the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is investigating alleged irregularities in the recruitment of Group-C and -D staff and teachers in state-sponsored and aided schools, the ED is looking into the money laundering aspects of the cases. 

It is alleged that ineligible candidates ranked higher in the recruitment process and question papers and answer keys were designed dubiously to favour the some candidates. Chatterjee is also accused of ensuring jobs for people with lower marks in exchange of money.

Rejecting a bail prayer of Chatterjee, Judge Jibon Kumar Sadhu of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) Court in Kolkata granted 14 days judicial remand of the two accused on a prayer by the ED till August 31. On a prayer by the ED, the court granted it permission to further interrogate them in the correctional homes they are lodged in.

Mukherjee did not make any bail prayer before the court on Thursday.

The ED has claimed to have recovered Rs 49.80 crore, jewellery and gold bars from flats owned by Mukherjee. It also claims recovery of documents of properties and a company in joint holdings.

Chatterjee has been relieved of his ministerial duties by the Mamata Banerjee government, while the Trinamool Congress (TMC) has also removed him from all posts he held in the party following his arrest.

Claiming that Chatterjee suffers from chronic illnesses and needs active medical intervention, his lawyer prayed for his bail on any condition. 

The public prosecutor appearing for the ED claimed that Chatterjee and Mukherjee are involved in a criminal conspiracy for illegally giving jobs for the post of teachers and money recovered from her flats were proceeds of crime. He also claimed that seized documents reveal a close association of Mukherjee with family members of Chatterjee through a company named Ananta Texfab Pvt Ltd and the address of it is a flat at Belghoria in the northern outskirts of Kolkata from where cash amounting to Rs 27.90 crore was seized. It was alleged that Chatterjee and Mukherjee entered into a partnership of equal share vide a partnership deed in November 2012 to form a company named APA Utility Services.

Opposing the bail prayer, the ED counsel submitted that Chatterjee is an influential person as he is a sitting MLA and may influence witnesses in the case.

Observing that the allegations against the accused are very serious, the judge rejected Chatterjee's bail prayer. 

(With PTI inputs)