Saradha scam: Calcutta HC cancels ex-minister’s bail, orders surrender
Kolkata: Weeks after a lower court granted bail to Trinamool Congress lawmaker and Saradha scam accused Madan Mitra, the Calcutta High Court on Thursday cancelled the relief and directed the politico to surrender.
A division bench of Justices Nishita Mhatre and Tapash Mookherjee allowed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) plea for cancellation of the bail.
“The CBI’s plea is allowed,” said the court before a packed house, as Mitra’s supporters, including his two sons, looked crestfallen.
In pursuance of the court order, Mitra subsequently appeared before the court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate in Alipore to surrender.
With the high court’s order yet to reach the Alipore court, the formalities were yet to be completed late into Thursday evening.
While the opposition parties welcomed the verdict, Mitra commented that “court always metes out justice”.
The bail cancellation came a day after Mitra quit as West Bengal’s transport and sports minister, apparently to blunt the CBI’s argument that his continuation in the cabinet was proof of his immense influence, despite being indicted and jailed in the multi-crore-rupee scam.
The CBI on Wednesday pleaded that Mitra, being an influential person, might hinder investigation and tamper with evidence if not kept in custody.
Mitra was granted bail by a lower court on October 31, after his plea was rejected multiple times by courts, including the Calcutta High Court.
The Trinamool leader got the relief nearly 11 months after his arrest on December 12 last year.
The CBI on November 3 had moved the high court for bail cancellation, contending that the lower court order suffered from “illegality, perversity and arbitrariness”.
On November 5, a vacation division bench ordered Mitra to be kept in house confinement till the disposal of the matter.
Pressing for cancellation of bail, CBI counsel K. Raghavacharyulu said the lower court, while granting bail to the politician, “did not reflect on the changed circumstances” which prompted it to grant the relief when the high court itself had rejected Mitra’s bail petition.
During the hearing, the counsel repeatedly pointed to Mitra’s stay in a VVIP suite of the government-run SSKM Hospital for the major part of his incarceration period, to reflect on Mitra being an “influential person”.
Opposing the CBI’s contentions, Mitra’s lawyer S.K. Kapoor said the prosecution could not provide any evidence of Mitra either interfering in the investigation or tampering with the evidence. He also argued that his client was indicted in only one of the five charge sheets filed by the probe agency so far.
“When they have filed so many charge sheets, what is the need for his further detention?” he asked, and accused the CBI of indulging in a “pick-and-choose” policy.
Kapoor said the agency did not appeal against the cancellation of the bail given to co-accused Sandhir Agarwal, who was also granted the relief on the same day as Mitra.
The CBI counsel said the process had been initiated to seek cancellation of Agarwal’s bail.
Allowing the CBI plea, the bench observed that the lower court “should have exercised caution” while granting the bail.
With the court ordering cancellation of bail, Kapoor requested that Mitra be allowed to remain in house confinement on medical grounds and sought a week’s time to surrender. But the court declined.
On his way to Alipore court to surrender, Mitra said: “Can court do injustice? Court always metes out justice.
“I am yet to receive the court’s order. But since I have seen it on TV, I am going to surrender to abide by the court order,” said Mitra.
The opposition welcomed the court verdict.
“We always had the belief that justice will be done. The verdict is an answer to those political parties who for their gain, have been alleging that the BJP and Trinamool had entered into an alliance,” BJP national secretary Siddharth Nath Singh said.
Leader of Opposition and CPI-M state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra said his party will return to the people all the money that was looted by Trinamool leaders.