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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Sep 2014

'Bengal govt's best not enough to contain scam'

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Kolkata, April 26, 2013
First Published: 18:20 IST(26/4/2013) | Last Updated: 20:14 IST(26/4/2013)

The Mamata Banerjee administration is doing its best to address the fallout of the chit fund meltdown, but it is not enough, remarked governor M K Narayanan on Friday.

“This is a very tragic incident. The first and foremost task should be to return deposited money to the depositors as early as possible. Several agencies are investigating the scam. The state government is doing whatever it can, but that is not enough,” said Narayanan, who opened its mount for the first time after the Saradha scam exploded on the face of the state and the ruling party.

“We have handed over a copy of the draft to the governor. The governor approved it for assembly,” said Mamata Banerjee. The chief minister also mooted special economic offence court to deal with such category of cases.

The West Bengal government has decided to convene a special session of the assembly from April 29, 2013 in order to pass a new bill for control of chit fund activities.

On Friday, the governor met chief minister Mamata Banerjee who was accompanied by the law minister and the chief secretary.

During the day there were several rounds of legislative and administrative meetings over the proposed bill that is likely to be passed in the assembly on April 30, 2013. The day started with an all-party meeting within the state assembly which the convened by the assembly speaker, Biman Bandopadhyay.

In the meeting the state government tried to convince the opposition legislators both from the Left Front and the Congress, that the proposed new bill would be more stringent and would have a retrospective effect so that Saradha group scam-stars cannot escape the fire.

However, the Left Front MLAs present in the all-party meeting that this attempt to bring the new bill instead of trying to clear the earlier The West Bengal Protection of Interest of Depositors in Financial Establishments Bill, 2009 passed by the earlier Left Front government in 2009 would delay the process.

A controversy has already begun over the government’s promise of making the law in such a way that it would have retrospective effect. “Any new law cannot have retrospective effect. Since the present government did not pursue with the government to clear the bill passed by in 2009, the Saradha Group scam- stars can escape because of the clause,” said CPI(M) legislator Anisur Rahman.

Claming that retrospective effect will be there in the new bill, the state commerce & industries minister, Partha Chatterjee said that the state government is serious about taking action against the chit funds. “We have already set up the commission of enquiry. We have also called a special session of assembly to pass the new bill as early as possible. Now the Left Front leaders are claiming that the new bill would delay the process. My question to them is why they did not pass the bill for the last 34 years when they ruled the state,” he said.

Like the Left Front, Congress MLA, Manas Ranjan Bhunia, too, expressed doubts on whether retrospective effect can be applicable in the new bill. “Whether the retrospective effect will be there or not will be clear when the bill is tabled in the assembly,” he said.

On the other hand, retired justice of Allahabad high court Shyamal Sen, who is heading the inquiry of the Saradha scam, said on Friday that he would submit the report within six months.


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