A special court in Kolkata on Friday sent former Trinamool Congress leader Partha Chatterjee and his aide Arpita Mukherjee to judicial custody for 14 days in an alleged teacher recruitment scam in West Bengal, PTI reported.
The Enforcement Directorate had arrested Chatterjee and Mukherjee on July 23. At Friday’s hearing, the central agency had sought 14-day custody of the duo, who are facing charges under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
Chatterjee’s lawyer sought bail saying that the former minister will not run away from investigation, The Times of India reported. “He is not an influential person anymore and is also willing to consider giving up his MLAship,” the counsel said.
The Enforcement Directorate told the court that out of the 15 days that Chatterjee has been in its custody, he could not be questioned on two days as he was in hospital.
The court rejected Chatterjee’s bail plea and posted the matter for hearing next on August 18.
The Enforcement Directorate has claimed that it has seized Rs 49.80 crore in cash, jewellery and gold bars from apartments owned by Mukherjee, besides documents of properties and a company in joint holding.
On July 28, Chatterjee was stripped of his party and ministerial responsibilities.
Chatterjee was the Trinamool Congress’ general secretary for nearly two decades and was appointed as the national vice president earlier this year. He is also the first minister to be sacked from the Cabinet after the Trinamool Congress returned to power in the state in 2021.
Chatterjee was the state education minister in 2018 when allegedly jobs were given to candidates in return for money instead of deserving candidates who had qualified in the recruitment process.
The Enforcement Directorate inquiry is based on a first information report filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation. On June 15, the Calcutta High Court asked the investigation agency to look into alleged irregularities in the recruitment of Group C and Group D staff, assistant teachers of Classes 9 to 12, and primary teachers.
Initially, the Trinamool Congress had alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party was behind the arrest of Chatterjee. But, the party took action against him after pressure mounted.