A Kolkata court on Thursday extended the judicial custody of former West Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee and his aide Arpita Mukherjee by 14 days in an alleged teacher recruitment scam, PTI reported.
They will now be in custody till August 31.
The Enforcement Directorate had arrested Chatterjee and Mukherjee on July 23 under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. They were in the Enforcement Directorate custody after their arrest. On August 5, the court had sent them to judicial custody, which ended on Thursday.
Special court Judge Jibon Kumar Sadhu, on Thursday, was hearing a bail appeal filed by the former Trinamool Congress leader.
While making his way into the courtroom, Chatterjee said “no one will be spared”, the Financial Express reported. “Everything will be proven in time,” he added, without elaborating on what his warning meant.
His lawyer sought bail on medical grounds Thursday.
“If he is further kept in custody, he won’t get medical assistance,” Chatterjee’s lawyer told the court, India Today reported. “His life will be in danger. Nothing has been recovered from Partha’s possession.”
The counsel claimed that the Enforcement Directorate officials had interrogated Chatterjee on the last day of his judicial custody.
“After getting 14 days’ time, is it a way to conduct an investigation?” the lawyer asked.
Chatterjee was questioned on Wednesday at the Presidency Correctional Home, a day before he and Mukherjee were going to be produced before the court, reported The Telegraph.
The public prosecutor representing the Enforcement Directorate, objected to Chatterjee’s bail plea, stating documents seized during the investigation have revealed a close association between Mukherjee and the former minister’s family members.
The two are linked through a company called Ananta Texfab Pvt Ltd located in Kolkata’s Belgharia locality, from where the Enforcement Directorate had recovered nearly Rs 29 crore in cash on July 28.
“We had quizzed Arpita yesterday and she has given us several leads on the basis of which we will be questioning Partha Chatterjee today,” an unidentified official told PTI.
After hearing the arguments, the court observed that the allegations against the accused persons are serious in nature. The court then rejected Chatterjee’s bail plea and granted him a 14-day remand till August 31. Mukherjee had not filed a bail plea.
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.
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.