Jailed West Bengal Transport Minister Madan Mitra has moved the Calcutta High Court for bail. On Thursday, a division bench will hear his plea — to be argued on his behalf by Congress leader and former Union minister Kapil Sibal.
Mitra has been in jail for the last eight months in connection with the multi-crore Saradha scam, being investigated by the CBI. Senior counsel R Raghavacharyulu will represent the CBI in the court on Thursday.
Sibal arrived in Kolkata on Wednesday evening. Speaking to mediapersons at the Kolkata airport, he said: “I do travel to Kolkata now and then for official business.”
Meanwhile, the state Congress cried foul. “It is highly embarrassing for a party, which had originally moved the Supreme Court for a CBI inquiry into Saradha case and had got a verdict endorsing a CBI inquiry. Now, a Congress leader has come to fight for the prime accused, it is an insult to the party,” said a party leader.
Abdul Manna, the Congress leader who had originally moved the petition for a CBI inquiry in the Supreme Court, said: “It was really unfortunate to see a senior Congress leader appearing for Madan Mitra. It will definitely send wrong signals.”
State Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said the party had little to do in the matter. “Sibal is a professional and it is entirely his individual consideration to fight a case. But certainly the situation is embarrassing.”
Mitra’s bail plea will be heard by a division bench of Justices Nisitha Mahtre and Asha Aurora. This comes after several abortive attempts made earlier by Mitra’s lawyers to move the high court. At least three other high court judges had recused themselves from hearing Mitra’s bail plea, citing personal reasons.
In the lower court at Alipore, where the case was being heard, Mitra’s bail pleas were moved at least a dozen times but disallowed. One of Mitra’s supporters said: “We hope that the bail plea might yield some reprieve for the leader. After all, while the chargesheet in the case was filed long ago, trial is yet to begin.
Baisanar Chatterjee, a Trinamool leader and lawyer for Mitra in Alipore court, said: “We are hoping for the best.”