Arpita Mukherjee, an aide of Trinamool Congress leader Partha Chatterjee arrested with him in Bengal’s teacher recruitment scam, will be kept with no more than four co-prisoners, and food for her will first be tested. A court in Kolkata granted these special security measures after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) cited “threat perception” to her. Ms Mukherjee made a similar request. Measures will include round-the-clock guards for her jail cell.
The probe agency will be allowed to question both the accused in jail, ruled the Special Court for money laundering cases, which sent them to 14-day judicial custody. Arrested on July 23, they were in ED custody so far.
The court rejected the bail plea of Mr Chatterjee, who was sacked from the cabinet by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as minister after piles of cash were seized from Ms Mukherjee’s flats. He says the case is a conspiracy.
Ms Mukherjee, an actor who’s denied any connection with the money, did not seek bail.
Mr Chatterjee will now be kept in Presidency jail; Ms Mukherjee in the Alipore jail for women. The next hearing is on August 18.
The nub of the case is the hiring of teachers and other staff when Partha Chatterjee was Education Minister in 2016 in Mamata Banerjee’s government. Investigators says the cash and other valuables found at Ms Mukherjee’s flats in Kolkata are linked to bribes for the appointments.
So far, more than Rs 50 crore, bars of gold, jewellery and papers related to properties, bank accounts and other investments have been seized by the ED.
The Trinamool has repeated a larger allegation of “political vendetta by the BJP using central probe agencies such as the ED and CBI”, but suspended Mr Chatterjee from the party after the massive cash seizures. As for Ms Mukherjee, the party has denied any connection whatsoever with her.
There should be a time-bound probe so that the truth comes out quickly, the party has said.