The Calcutta High Court on Sunday asked the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to take the arrested West Bengal Industries and Commerce Minister, Partha Chatterjee, by air ambulance to the AIIMS Bhubaneswar early on Monday. Justice Bibek Chaudhuri said the Minister, arrested by the ED in the West Bengal School Service Commission recruitment scam, would be accompanied by a doctor of the SSKM Superspecialty Hospital and an advocate to the AIIMS Bhubaneswar.
The ED on Sunday approached the High Court challenging a city court order allowing Mr. Chatterjee to stay at the State-run SSKM Hospital. The court order said, “The investigating agency is directed to take the accused by air ambulance to the AIIMS Bhubaneswar in the early morning on July 25. The accused shall be taken to the NSC Bose Airport, Calcutta by an ambulance of the SSKM Superspecialty Hospital. He will be accompanied by a doctor of the SSKM Superspecialty Hospital and an advocate for the accused.”
The 11-page order directed the AIIMS Bhubaneswar authority to have the accused examined by a team of doctors of cardiology, nephrology, respiratory medicines and endocrinology and prepare a report and hand over “copies of the same to the investigating officer, the Medical Officer of the SSKM Superspeciality Hospital, and the advocate for the accused by 3 p.m. on Monday.”
The High Court directed that the investigating officer shall forward a soft copy of the above-mentioned medical report to his counterpart in Calcutta who, in turn, shall produce it before the Special Judge under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). Mr. Chatterjee was arrested by the ED and has been remanded in custody till July 25 when he will be produced before a court.
Earlier, in the High Court, ED counsel argued that the Minister can be taken to a doctor but not doctor of his choice. The agency offered that Mr. Chatterjee be taken to Delhi or Bhubaneswar for treatment. Maintaining that the Minister fell ill soon after the arrest, the Central agency said the SSKM Hospital was turning out to be a safe haven for those arrested.
During the day, Arpita Mukherjee, a close associate of the Minister, was produced before the city court. Her bail plea was rejected and she will be in the ED custody till Monday. During the raids on Friday, the agency had recovered ₹21.90 crore from the residence of Ms. Mukherjee.
TMC for time-bound probe
During the day, the Trinamool leadership sought a time-bound investigation into Mr. Chatterjee’s arrest. The party had however distanced itself from the Minister and said it would not interfere politically if any leader had done anything wrong. In the past the Trinamool had defended the leaders whose names had figured in the Saradha chit fund scam and Narada tapes. “The person from whose house money has been recovered has nothing to do with the Trinamool Congress,” TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said.
The West Bengal School Service Recruitment scam involves irregularities in the recruitment of teachers and non-teaching staff in State-run schools. The Calcutta High Court had directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to probe irregularities in the recruitment of teachers and non-teaching staff. The CBI had questioned Mr. Chatterjee in connection with the scam. The Enforcement Directorate is looking into the aspect of money laundering in the irregularities.