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Panel to scan Saradha report

Calcutta, Dec. 9: A division bench of Calcutta High Court today set up a three-member committee to assess a report submitted by the special investigation team probing the Saradha default.

“The SIT has already submitted a detailed report on the progress of the investigation into the Saradha case. This court is setting up a three-member committee to go through the report and find out if there is any irregularity in the investigation,” the division bench of Justices Ashim Kumar Banerjee and Debangshu Basak said in the order.

The three members of the committee are advocates Laxmi Gupta, Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya and Pranab Dutta. The committee will submit its report on December 17, when the matter would come up for hearing next.

Today’s order followed two fresh petitions — one moved by advocate Bhattacharyya on behalf of Anindya Sunder Das and another by Subrata Mukhopadhyay for petitioner Basabi Roy Chowdhury.

“The fact that a committee has been set up to assess the report filed by the SIT is significant. This means the court wants to know whether the investigation has been carried out impartially or not,” said advocate Rabishankar Chatterjee.

Both Bhattacharyya and Mukhopadhyay argued before the court that neither the SIT nor the state government followed the guidelines set by the division bench on June 19 while rejecting a plea for a CBI probe into the Saradha scam.

“On June 19, this bench had allowed the SIT to continue with its investigation. But the court had set guidelines on how to go about the probe, such as attaching Saradha properties and refunding money to the duped depositors by selling the properties,” Bhattacharyya said.

Mukhopadhyay said none of the court’s guidelines was followed.

“The high court had also said the state should set up more special courts to hear the complaints against the Saradha Group. It had asked the government to identify Saradha’s properties and refund the money through the Justice Shyamal Sen Commission. But none of the guidelines was followed,” Mukhopadhyay said.

Both lawyers claimed that the situation had “changed” after the arrest of Trinamul MP Kunal Ghosh in a case related to the Saradha Group. The court had on June 19 said that as the government machinery was not involved in the scam, it was not handing over the probe to the CBI.

“After the changed scenario, the court should ask the central agency to conduct the probe,” Bhattacharyya said.

After hearing the plea, the bench set up the three-member committee. While advocate Gupta was earlier made an amicus curiae (person appointed to assist the court) in the case, Bhattacharyya has been representing the petitioners. Dutta has been inducted on behalf of advocate-general Bimal Chatterjee.

The Enforcement Directorate, a wing of the central government and a respondent in the case, filed an affidavit during the day seeking an order quashing the Bengal government’s decision to set up the Justice Shyamal Sen commission.