The Shyamal Sen Commission that was set up by chief minister Mamata Banerjee to identify the key persons responsible for the Saradha scam and return money to the depositors was wound up on Wednesday without achieving either of the objectives.
Mamata Banerjee announced the decision to set up the commission under the leadership of retired justice Shyamal Sen on April 24 last year, just a few days after Sudipta Sen and Debjani Mukherjee were arrested from Kashmir.
Sources in the commission told HT that till now 3,93982 depositors were given Rs 287 crore by the state government through the commission. But Rs 102 crore was not withdrawn and the cheques were returned to the commission. So in effect, the payout was only of Rs 185 crore.
Only those depositors who put in Rs 10,000 or less in Saradha were given cheques.
The commission got more than 17 lakh applications for return of money. So barely 23% of the applicants were given out cheques.
Over the past couple of days, the Sen commission office at Council House Street at B B D Bagh became a hotbed of protests with opposition parties agitating against the government’s decision to wind up the commission.
On Wednesday, journalists were not allowed to move up the stairs to the second floor office of the building with policemen blocking their way.
A section of the depositors moved Calcutta high court on Wednesday against the decision of the government to wind up the commission. But the court threw out their petition as they could not provide any precedence of the court extending the life of such commissions.
They said they will approach the supreme court.
Opposition leaders such as BJP state president Rahul Sinha and Congress state president Adhir Chowdhury lashed out at the state government for winding up the commission. Both said that the commission was folded up as the chief minister realized it can’t score any political brownie points in this case. BJP leader Bikram Sarkar claimed the commission was set up to hush up the Saradha scam. “Now with CBI and ED probing the scam, the ruling party has realized it is useless to continue with the commission,” said sarkar.
The commission asked district magistrates and the police superintendents to find out why some cheques were not deposited in the banks. The commission also asked various district administration to submit an action taken report.
The district magistrates and police superintendents of some districts told the commission that in many cases the addresses of depositors could not be found, and in some cases the names were fictitious.
The state government in the terms of reference of the commission of inquiry asked the commission to provide hearing and to receive including by online means, all individual and public complaints regarding the Saradha Group of Companies and other similar Companies.
The government also asked the commission to inquire about the activities of various chit fund companies. The government had also asked the commission to identify the persons involved in the scam.