A Special Court of Tripura Monday remanded ex-minister Badal Choudhury in police custody for four days in connection with a Rs 638.40-crore graft case. The court, however, imposed restrictions on the mode of Choudhury’s interrogation, in view of his poor health.
“Mr Badal Choudhury should not be kept and interrogated in any police lock-up considering his health condition…He should be kept in a separate place/room (single occupancy) having air and light availability and where there shall be provided at least one bed with cot for his sleeping and taking rest with provision of drinking water and proper diet and also with provision of lavatory in any nearby area of the room so that he is not required to walk much,” the order by West Tripura District and Sessions Judge Sabyasachi Kar Purakayastha reads.
The court also said the CPI(M) leader should be examined by a medical officer at least once a day.
Choudhury, who was Tripura’s PWD minister for four terms, was booked along with two others — former PWD engineer in-chief Sunil Bhowmik and former Chief Secretary Yashpal Singh — for alleged corruption in public works carried out in 2008-2009. He was arrested from a private Agartala hospital on October 21 — over a week after he was booked in the case, and after frantic searches by the Tripura police.
He had to be rushed to the ICU of state-run Gobinda Ballabh Pant (GBP) Hospital soon after his arrest, triggering allegations of police excesses in handling him. Choudhury has had two bypass surgeries in the past and had suffered a mild brain stroke while hospitalised in police custody in October.
Special Public Prosecutor Ratan Dutta, who in the previous hearing on November 8 had argued that Choudhury was not ill, Monday agreed with the defence counsel’s proposal to interrogate him outside a lock-up.
Choudhury will again be produced in court on November 22, before which he will be sent back to judicial custody on expiry of his police remand.
Choudhury’s counsel Purushottam Roy Barman said the court had noted the former minister’s allegation that a “deep-rooted conspiracy was afoot to assassinate” him. Choudhury has accused higher-ups in the state administration of being involved in the alleged conspiracy.
After he was arrested from a hospital and was being taken to the lock-up from a police car, Choudhury had shouted out to media personnel that he was beaten up and verbally abused by the police.
Former Tripura Chief Minister and CPI (M) politburo member Manik Sarkar has termed the case against Choudhury a “political conspiracy”.