A lower court in Kolkata on Monday extended the judicial custody of former West Bengal education minister and Trinamool Congress secretary general Partha Chatterjee till November 14 for his alleged involvement in multi-crore West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC) recruitment scam.
Along with Partha Chatterjee, the court also extended the judicial custody till same peroid for former WBSSC chairman and former vice-chancellor of the University of North Bengal, Subiresh Bhattacharya and former president of West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE), Kalyanmoy Gangopadhyay, co-accused in the case.
While moving the bail plea on Monday, Partha Chatterjee’s counsel opposed the point raised by the counsel of Enforcement Directorate (ED) that since the investigation is at early stage still, there is necessity for the former West Bengal education minister to remain in judicial custody so that the Central agency sleuths can interrogate him, if necessary.
Partha Chatterjee’s counsel questioned the justification describing the investigation being at an early stage, even after his client has served judicial custody for 99 days.
In counter argument, the ED’s counsel Feroze Edulji said the nexus between Partha Chatterjee and the arrested Trinamool Congress legislator and the former president of West Bengal Board of Primary Education (WBBPE), Manik Bhattacharya, needs to be probed further.
“There had been a nexus between the two. Partha Chatterjee is not cooperating with the investigating officials which is delaying the process. This is not any ordinary scam. The futures of many are involved with it,” the ED counsel added. Feroze Edulji also quoted the iconic version from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth – “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand?”
When the judge gave permission to Partha Chatterjee to speak, he also pleaded for bail on health grounds. “I am not well. Please let me survive. The Central agency has not been able to prove anything against me so far,” he said. However, finally the court accepted the arguments of the Central agency’s counsel and extended his judicial custody till November 14.
While he was being brought out of the court, Partha Chatterjee made told the media persons, “I am still with the party.” His comments were significant since soon after his arrest Trinamool Congress stripped him off from all ministerial and party portfolios.