ED seeks custodial trial for Partha Chatterjee; ex-min to be in prison till Sept 14

Published on Aug 31, 2022 06:51 PM IST

The special PMLA court sent Chatterjee and his close associate Arpita Mukherjee to judicial custody till September 14 after they were arrested on July 23

Kolkata, India - Aug. 18, 2022: Arrested TMC leader Partha Chatterjee leaves from Bankshall Court after the hearing in connection to the illegal teachers recruitment scam, in Kolkata, India, on Thursday, August 18, 2022. (Photo by Samir Jana/ Hindustan Times) (Hindustan Times)
Kolkata, India - Aug. 18, 2022: Arrested TMC leader Partha Chatterjee leaves from Bankshall Court after the hearing in connection to the illegal teachers recruitment scam, in Kolkata, India, on Thursday, August 18, 2022. (Photo by Samir Jana/ Hindustan Times) (Hindustan Times)

The Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday urged the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court to grant permission for custodial trial of former Trinamool Congress minister Partha Chatterjee for his alleged involvement in a multi-crore West Bengal recruitment scam in government schools.

“While Chatterjee’s lawyers said that he should be granted bail on health grounds and may be kept under house arrest, the ED prayed for custodial trial for Chatterjee saying that he was influential and powerful and could tamper with the evidence if given bail,” said a senior lawyer present in the court.

The special PMLA court sent Chatterjee and his close associate Arpita Mukherjee to judicial custody till September 14 after they were arrested on July 23.

“They have been sent to judicial custody for another 14 days. The ED sought custodial trial for Chatterjee. An accused will have to remain in custody without getting bail till the end of the trial or at least half the maximum sentence in case of a custodial trial,” Mukherjee’s counsel Niladri Bhattacharya said.

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The ED’s counsel also told the court that the agency has come across more than 100 bank accounts of Chatterjee and Mukherjee. At least 30 such bank accounts were unearthed in just the last 14 days during their interrogation. The agency also alleged that Chatterjee was not cooperating during the questioning.

“The ED’s counsel told the court that Chatterjee is still so powerful and influential that he is getting access to documents which the agency was submitting in the court,” a lawyer said.

“Chatterjee’s counsel argued that the ED hasn’t recovered any cash from his house and that he was just a nominee in a LIC [policy] registered in Arpita’s name. He also countered that as Chatterjee was not yielding under ED’s pressure and not supporting their statements, he was being accused of non-cooperation,” a senior advocate claimed.

The TMC heavyweight, who had alleged that he was a victim of conspiracy, was sacked from the cabinet by chief minister Mamata Banerjee and suspended from the party soon after his arrest.

The ED earlier seized around 50 crore in cash from two flats belonging to Mukherjee, and the agency also unearthed several properties allegedly belonging to the accused.

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