KOLKATA: The ruling Trinamool Congress on Thursday suffered a major setback as the Calcutta High Court rejected the bail plea of jailed West Bengal Transport Minister and Saradha scam-accused Madan Mitra despite an undertaking by his counsel, former Congress Minister Kapil Sibal, that his client will resign from the Cabinet if he were granted bail.
After a hearing lasting nearly two-and-a-half-hours, which saw CBI counsel K Raghavacharalu strongly opposing the move, the Division Bench of Justice Nishita Mhatre and Justice Asha Aurora rejected Mitra’s bail plea .
According to Sibal, Mitra had never tried to influence the probe into the sensational case and that Sections 409 and 120B of the IPC were not applicable to his client as he was neither a partner nor a banker of Saradha Group. Also, he pointed out that Mitra was an elected representative and hence would not flee the clutches of the law. However, the CBI counsel countered this saying that Mitra’s supporters had stormed the Alipore court whenever he was produced and the jail superintendent refused to furnish his medical report. In fact, The CBI sought Mitra’s medical report as the minister during the last six months has been staying in an AC cabin at the VIP Woodburn ward of state-owned SSKM Hospital on health grounds.
Raghavacharalu stressed that Mitra was capable of influencing the witnesses, which would impact the ongoing CBI investigation ordered by the Supreme Court. He stated that before Mitra’s arrest none was willing to record their secret statements but later they did so. Besides, the CBI submitted the case diaries before the Bench and that several witnesses were still coming forward with information about Mitra’s involvement in the scam.
Veteran Congress leader, Abdul Mannan, who was behind the move to get the SC to order the CBI probe said, “I felt hurt that Sibal pleaded the case of an accused involved in duping several lakh depositors. The people want the guilty to be punished and the High Court rightly rejected the bail plea.”
Supporting him, state Congress chief Adhir Chowdhury MP said, “He came as a lawyer and took his fee. But it is Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who was defeated today(Thursday) as she has still kept Madan in her Cabinet and demonstrated against the CBI protesting his arrest.”