A division bench of the Calcutta High Court on Monday directed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to be a party in a PIL regarding the assets and property details of 19 heavyweight leaders, including seven current ministers in West Bengal.
The division bench of Calcutta High Court’s Chief Justice Prakash Srivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bhardwaj gave this directive acting on a PIL filed in 2017 by one individual, Biplob Chowdhury, questioning the spectacular growth in assets of 19 Trinamool legislators, parliamentarians and ministers of the state government.
In the PIL, Chowdhury quoted the affidavits filed by these leaders with the Election Commission of India (ECI) while filing their nominations for various elections that showed the inflation in the assets of these leaders over the years.
The PIL also includes the names of two deceased ministers of the West Bengal cabinet, namely former state panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee and former state cooperation minister Sadhan Pandey.
The existing ministers of the state government named in the PIL include state municipal affairs minister and Kolkata mayor Firhad Hakim; state education minister Bratya Basu; state forest minister Jyotipriyo Mullick; state law minister Maloy Ghatak; state cooperation minister Arup Roy; state disaster management minister Javed Ahmed Khan; and minister of state for panchayat affairs Seuli Saha.
The list also includes names of the West Bengal Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee and Lok Sabha member from Barrackpore Arjun Singh, who has recently joined Trinamool Congress from the BJP.
The other prominent names in the list of 19 include Trinamool Congress mayor of Siliguri Municipal Corporation, Gautam Deb and ruling party MLAs Madan Mitra and Swarnakamal Saha, among others. The list also includes the names of former state finance minister and current principal financial advisor to the state government, Amit Mitra.
The development comes at a time when former heavyweight Trinamool Congress leader and minister, Partha Chatterjee and his close aide, Arpita Mukherjee, are in judicial custody over their alleged links with the multi-crore West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC) recruitment irregularities scam. The ED has already recovered several crores of rupees from the residence of Arpita Mukherjee.
According to the BJP state spokesman in West Bengal Samik Bhattacharya, Trinamool Congress will not be able to describe this development as the conspiracy of the Union government and the BJP, since the division bench of the Calcutta High Court has directed that the ED will be a party in the PIL. “We welcome the decision,” he said.
Till the report was filed not a single Trinamool Congress leader was willing to make any comment on this development.