Thursday&’s interim ruling of the Vacation Bench of Calcutta High Court (coram: Joymalya Bagchi and Dara Sheko, JJ) is critical on two counts – it assails the order of the trial court for granting bail in haste to Madan Mitra. Second and no less crucially, a principal accused in the Saradha scam and a minister in Mamata Banerjee&’s cabinet, has effectively been placed under house arrest. (His continued ministerial appointment makes a mockery of the certificate of honesty advanced by China&’s Vice-President, Mr Li Yuanchao, to the Chief Minister, coincidentally on the day of the High Court ruling). The order is explicit on the point that Mitra will be confined to his residence “under police surveillance”.
Furthermore, the Bench has turned the spotlight on the trial court for ignoring the 6 August order of the High Court rejecting Mitra&’s bail. The Bench has made it clear that there has been no change of circumstances over the past three months -“The trial court judge was aware of the 6 August order. But we see no reflection of that order in the bail order”. This observation reflects poorly on the magistracy.
At Alipore last week, the magistrate had been indulgent to the accused minister. And despite the fact that CBI&’s counsel was unable to produce the case papers as he was out of station on professional work. Hence the observation of the Bench – “The prosecuting agency has a pan-India presence and has commitments outside West Bengal. Its counsel has to attend to other cases. And yet the trial court issued the bail order despite the CBI counsel opposing the petition.” Hope emanates from the higher judiciary, which has restored the balance. Not wholly unrelated must be the SSKM medical board&’s thoroughly contrived “certificate of fitness” in the immediate aftermath of the bail order. While this newspaper wishes good health for everyone, including a scam-accused minister, the amazing dips and surges in Mitra&’s health bulletin provoke derision, if not outright disbelief.