In further relief to TMC leader Madan Mitra, the Calcutta High Court Wednesday rejected CBI’s plea to keep the former transport minister, an accused in the Saradha chitfund scam, under house arrest and under police surveillance.
A division bench comprising Justices Nishita Mhatre and Tapas Mukherjee also adjourned hearing of CBI’s plea for cancellation of bail to Mitra till November 3. It directed Mitra’s counsel to file an affidavit stating reasons as to why his bail should not be cancelled and directed him to serve a copy of the affidavit to the investigating agency.
An Alipore court had, on September 9, granted bail to Mitra against personal bonds of Rs 30 lakh and subject to certain conditions including submission of his passport, presenting himself to the CBI once every week and not to leave the jurisdiction of the Bhowanipore Police Station.
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Mitra could not even stay at his residence, which falls under Kalighat police station. Initially he had put up at a hotel before shifting to a rented accommodation.
The CBI had moved the plea to cancel Mitra’s bail claiming that bail conditions were not stringent enough as Mitra was not a common man. “Whether he is a minister or MLA or not, his clout and influence continues,” CBI counsel K Raghava Charyulu told the court. The counsel said that minutes after he was granted bail by a sessions court, the “whole state government was with him”.
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Stating that that Mitra was moving around freely, the CBI counsel apprehended that during the Puja vacation and celebrations Mitra would meet many people and could influence witnesses and affect investigation.
Charyulu prayed for Mitra’s “confinement in his house under police and CBI surveillance”, saying similar restraining orders were passed by a division bench presided over by Justice Joymalyo Bagchi on an earlier application by the investigating agency pending its plea for cancellation of bail granted to Mitra by a city court.
The bench, however, refused to impose any further restrictions on Mitra. The former minister has been charged under sections 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant), 420 (cheating) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC.
Mitra, who was arrested on December 12, 2014 for his alleged complicity in the Saradha scam, was earlier granted bail by the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (ACJM) of Alipore Sessions Court on October 31, 2015 after several of his bail pleas were rejected by different courts. But, the breather had turned out to be a brief one as the Calcutta High Court cancelled his bail on November 19 on a petition by the agency.