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Order for special Saradha court

Saradha chief Sudipta Sen

Calcutta, Feb. 10: Calcutta High Court today directed the Bengal government to form a special court to deal with all criminal cases related to the Saradha default crisis, terming “unfortunate” the state’s failure to carry out its earlier recommendations.

“It is unfortunate that our recommendations regarding setting up of a special court to deal with all Saradha cases and to assist the central Enforcement Directorate to conduct a parallel probe have not been implemented by the state. The government is directed to set up a special court to hear all criminal cases lodged against the Saradha Group,” the division bench of Justices Asim Kumar Banerjee and Arijit Banerjee said in the order.

The court said a special court was necessary for the “speedy disposal of the cases” and “early relief” of the duped investors. The bench also clarified that if the Saradha cases were heard in a single court, the directorate would have easy access to the accused for interrogation.

The division bench directed the state government to ensure that the directorate got “proper assistance” from the police in conducting “fair and free investigation into the Saradha default”.

Two petitioners demanding a CBI into the Saradha default in May last year had made the central Enforcement Directorate a respondent to the case.

The directorate had in its application asked the court to clarify how it had empowered the Justice Shyamal Sen commission to seize Saradha properties, saying it was bad in law and violated “the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act”.

“The act gives only the directorate the right to seize the properties of a faulty company like Saradha,” Somnath Bose, the lawyer appearing for the directorate had told the court.

In its order today, the high court held that the bench was not the “proper forum” to decide on the matter and asked it to approach the “appropriate court” for settling the issue.

The division bench also criticised the special investigating team conducting the probe into the Saradha crisis for writing an “objectionable” letter to the directorate.

The directorate, through a letter to the SIT chief, had raised several queries related to the case. In its reply on October 10 last year, the SIT chief had allegedly challenged the authority of the directorate.

“This is not done. This sort of incident should not occur again,” Justice Asim Banerjee, the senior judge on the division bench, said.

On June 19 last year, while dealing with two separate public interest litigations, the court had allowed the state government-appointed SIT to continue its probe into the crisis but with certain conditions.

The bench had recommended that the directorate should get proper assistance from the state police while conducting a parallel probe into the crisis.

The court also had asked the state to allow the directorate to interrogate the accused when needed and had stressed the need for setting up a special court to hear the Saradha cases.

In its application, the directorate had alleged that it was not getting proper assistance from the police.