KOLKATA: A special PMLA court here on Wednesday rejected the bail prayer of arrested former Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee and extended his judicial custody till October 31 on a prayer by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is probing the alleged money trail in the School Service Commission (SSC) recruitment scam.
The special court also extended the judicial remand of Chatterjee's alleged close aide, Arpita Mukherjee, till October 31.
The ED, which had claimed in a charge sheet submitted before the court on September 19 that approximately Rs 100 crore was recovered in the form of cash and assets of Mukherjee, submitted that the amount could go up to Rs 150 crore with fresh revelations in the progressing investigation.
The judge of the special PMLA court rejected the bail prayer of Chatterjee considering the "gravity and seriousness" of the offence alleged and ordered that the judicial custody of the former minister be extended till October 31.
The court also allowed the prayers of the ED to interrogate the two accused in judicial custody.
The ED alleged that Chatterjee and Mukherjee were involved in money laundering by indulging in criminal conspiracy for illegally giving teaching post jobs on recommendations by the School Service Commission (SSC) in state-sponsored and —aided school, and generated huge proceeds of crime.
ED counsel Phiroze Edulji submitted that investigation into other high-value transactions is required to be done to unearth the money trail and identify the proceeds of crime.
Edulji claimed that the amount could go up to around Rs 150 crore.
Praying for Chatterjee's bail, his lawyers claimed that no money was recovered from his house and that he does not have any close connection with Arpita Mukherjee, from whose flats Rs 49.80 crore in cash was seized by the ED.
It was further claimed that no tangible evidence was recovered from Chatterjee to substantiate the charges leveled against him.
Chatterjee and Mukherjee were held on July 23 by the ED in connection with its probe into the money trail involved in the school recruitment scam.
Following the arrest, the duo was in the custody of the agency of 14 days. They were then remanded in judicial custody on orders of the court.
The ED has said that it has seized Rs 49.80 crore in cash, apart from jewellery and gold bars from flats owned by Mukherjee, as also documents of properties.
It has also been stated by the agency that Mukherjee's close association with family members of Chatterjee has been found in a company registered at an address owned by the former at Belghoria, on the northern outskirts of Kolkata, from where Rs 27.90 crore in cash was seized.
The ED had also recovered Rs 21.90 crore in cash from a flat in south Kolkata where Mukherjee resided.
Chatterjee was relieved of his ministerial duties by the Mamata Banerjee government shortly after his arrest, while the TMC, too, removed him from the posts he held in the party, including that of the secretary-general. He was the education minister when the scam was allegedly pulled off.