Millennium Post

Saradha scam: Mitra denied bail, sent to CBI custody

Arrested on Friday by the Central Bureau of Investigation for "prima facie evidence of criminal conspiracy, cheating and misappropriation as well as deriving undue financial benefits from the Saradha group", Mitra was presented before acting Chief Judicial Magistrate (Alipore) Kinshuk Sadhukhan amid heavy deployment of police personnel as hundreds of Trinamool Congress supporters gathered around the court premises shouting anti CBI slogans.

There was also a brief pandemonium inside the court after Mitra's counsels urged the judge to evict media persons covering the case. But the court refused to relent. A few of Trinamool supporters had also come inside the court trying to remove the journalists but were prevented from doing so by police.

Pressing for his bail, Mitra's counsel contended the arrest was illegal as the minister was summoned by the CBI as a witness.

"Having summoned him as a witness, the CBI acted in an arbitrary and whimsical fashion to arrest Mitra. They did not even properly record his statement and after asking only one or two questions they arrested him," argued defence counsel Ashok Mukherjee.

The counsel also submitted that the CBI was acting in pursuance of a "political conspiracy".

"The CBI's charges against Mitra do not stand because they are yet to produce any substantive evidence and whatever evidence is there is based on hearsay which is inadmissible in the court," said the counsel.

Even as a battery of lawyers were dishing out arguments in favour of his bail , Mitra sought the court's permission to say something.

Giving details about his interrogation at the CBI office here on Friday, Mitra told the court that "everything was going fine" and a senior official told him that he could go home after his statement was recorded.

"Everything was going fine and later joint director Rajiv Singh offered me tea. Singh said my statement is being recorded and once it is done, I may go home.

"I was having my tea when suddenly an officer came to me and said we have got a call from Delhi we will have to arrest you," said Mitra.

The counsel also cited his fragile health and submitted supporting documents seeking bail. They also said that being a minister with two important portfolios, it was imperative that he was granted bail. They also said the all the members of the Bar Council were willing to stand as a surety for Mitra.

Opposing Mitra's bail plea, CBI counsel P.S. Dutta said the interrogation of the accused was essential to unravel the larger conspiracy concerning the scam. Seeking CBI custody of the accused for seven days, he submitted four volumes of the case diary in support.

After going through the case diary and the arguments, the CJM rejected the bail plea and the remanded Mitra to CBI custody.

The court also remanded the Saradha Group chief Sudipta Sen's legal advisor Naresh Bhalodia, who too was arrested with Mitra, to CBI custody till Dec 16.

Chaos ensued when Mitra was being taken out of the court in a police van as hundreds of Trinamool supporters tried to block the vehicle and even attempted to jump on it. Police, however, managed to whisk him away.

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