Kolkata: Court asks Madan Mitra to cool his heels at home
Calcutta High Court, on Thursday, directed that Bengal transport minister Madan Mitra, an accused in the Saradha chit fund scam, will remain in house confinement under police surveillance till disposal of a CBI plea for cancellation of his bail on November 17.kolkata Updated: Nov 06, 2015 14:31 IST
Calcutta High Court, on Thursday, directed that Bengal transport minister Madan Mitra, an accused in the Saradha chit fund scam, will remain in house confinement under police surveillance till disposal of a CBI plea for cancellation of his bail on November 17.
Observing that Mitra is a Cabinet minister and has the power to influence witnesses if allowed to remain free, a division bench of justices Joymalyo Bagchi and Mir Dara Sheko directed that he would remain confined to his residence at Bhowanipore once he is discharged from a private hospital where he is currently admitted.
The significance of the verdict is that while the CBI won’t be able to take the minister in its custody, Mitra, too, will not be free to move around and no outsider can meet him. The minister can step out of his home only if the CBI wants to take him out for investigation purposes or if he needs medical treatment.
Mitra, who was arrested by the CBI on December 12, 2014, for alleged complicity in the scam, was granted bail by an Alipore court on October 31.
Mitra had been in the staterun SSKM Hospital since February 11 on the ground of illness and went home from there after being declared fit by a medical board of the hospital, a day after being granted bail.
The bench said Mitra’s house detention was an interim arrangement and the final decision would be taken by a regular bench.
“Till the next hearing, Mitra will not be able to leave his home, or meet anybody at home or in hospital,” his advocate said.
On Thursday, the division bench also questioned the wisdom of the lower court in granting bail to the minister in a hurry.
When hearing began, the CBI counsel argued that Mitra is an important person who wields enough clout to influence witnesses and the course of the investigation that involves thousands of crores of rupees and the future of lakhs of depositors.
Mitra, 61, was admitted to a private hospital in Alipore on November 2 after he complained of uneasiness and breathlessness. Barely 36 hours ago, was he declared fit by SSKM Hospital.
The decision to discharge the minister was taken hours after Alipore court granted him bail.
The minister has spent more than 80% of his 324 days custody – December 12, 2014 to October 31, 2015 – in the Woodburn ward of SSKM Hospital as he was too ill to stay in a jail.
Mitra is the only serving minister in Bengal to be ever arrested in any case. His bail gave the ruling Trinamool Congress a big political relief ahead of the 2016 Assembly elections.
On Thursday, the CBI counsel told the court that the lower court granted bail to Mitra without hearing agency’s position since the investigating officer was not in town, and the case diary could not be brought to court.
On August 6, the High Court had rejected Mitra’s bail plea when he hired senior advocate Kapil Sibal to argue his case. On Thursday the bench wondered what had changed on the ground since that date.