West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday blamed both the Centre and the previous Left Front government for not keeping a check on companies like the Saradha Group that were engaged in illegal investment schemes.
“I will seek funds from the Centre as the storm here came because of the previous Left Front government’s misdeeds and the casual approach of the Union government,” she told journalists here. She wondered why the SEBI and the RBI had not initiated action against the erring companies.
“Anything related to chit funds and money laundering comes within the purview of the Centre; had our government not been in power one might not have known of such activities in our State. Thanks that the matter has come to light.”
Censuring the Left Front governments, Ms. Banerjee said, “Had there been effective legislation after the Sanchayita scam [more than three decades ago] so many people would not have been duped.”
Now, the government would pass a Bill in the Assembly with provisions to confiscate the company’s properties and those of others engaged in illegal collective investment schemes.
Accompanied by some of her Ministers, Ms. Banerjee presented the draft of the new Bill to Governor M.K. Narayanan at Raj Bhavan, 45 minutes after the previous West Bengal Protection of Interest of Depositors in Financial Establishment Bill, 2009, was returned.
The new Bill was verbally “approved” by Mr. Narayanan and was expected to receive his formal assent on May 5 on his return to the city. On receiving his consent, the Bill would be forwarded to the Centre immediately so that action against errant companies could be taken without further delay, Ms. Banerjee said.
It is to be placed in the Assembly during a two-day special session beginning April 29.
Speaker Biman Bandopadhyay told journalists earlier in the day, after an all-party meeting, that the law was expected to have retrospective effect so that those responsible for fraudulent activities in the past would not be spared.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee said the government had written to the Governor on February 8 seeking to withdraw the Bill so that it could bring in a more “stringent Bill.”
However, the CPI(M) asked why the 2009 Bill was not being accepted. “We intend to raise this issue during discussions,” said senior MLA Anisur Rahaman.