Proposes ordinance to curb proliferation of illegal investment schemes

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday announced the setting up of an inquiry commission headed by a former Calcutta High Court judge to probe the chit fund scam.

“The commission headed by retired Justice Shaymal Sen will look into how much money has been collected, who all were depositors and how we can return the money,” Ms. Banerjee told journalists here.

The overnight closure of “chit funds” had triggered panic among investors and people.

Ordinance

The State would issue an ordinance to curb proliferation of illegal investment schemes. She said her government had written to the Centre three months ago to return the old legislation sent by the previous Left Front government for Presidential assent.

“I have requested President Pranab Mukherjee to ensure that it [the earlier legislation] is returned to us quickly. We have prepared the draft of a strong legislation with powers of seizure, search and confiscation of property and other stringent actions against those who dupe people,” Ms. Banerjee said.

Blaming the previous Left Front government for delay in enacting the legislation, she said the “earlier legislation was faulty.”

“The former President, Pratibha Patil, had written to the Left Front government in 2006 to withdraw the legislation and suggested some changes. However, it did not withdraw it but sent in a new legislation instead,” Ms. Banerjee said.

SIT investigation

The Chief Minister also announced setting up of a Special Investigation Team led by the Director-General of Police to probe the scam.

She urged people to register their complaints with the inquiry commission that would have four members, including a retired IPS officer, one person from the corporate sector and renowned economists.

A diversionary tactic: Left

Leader of the Opposition Surya Kanta Mishra termed the setting up of the inquiry commission a diversionary tactic by the government.

“Any commission set up by the State government in its terms of reference has the jurisdiction to inquire into matters listed in the State List of the Constitution. In this instance, there are Central agencies like the Securities and Exchange Board of India and the Reserve Bank of India involved and a commission set up by the State government cannot investigate their role,” Dr. Mishra said.