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Bengal system has crumbled under Saradha plot: SC

New Delhi, April 9: The Supreme Court today observed that the “entire system” in Bengal seemed to have “crumbled” under the Saradha default conspiracy and wondered whether the probe should be shifted to the CBI.

The apex court, however, refrained from passing any order for a CBI probe and adjourned the matter till April 16. The Lok Sabha elections begin in Bengal on April 17.

“There is a larger conspiracy with political overtones and the entire system is supposed to have crumbled under it. Everybody is taking a cut in the loot. Why not shift the investigation to the CBI to inspire confidence among the investors?” the bench of Justices T.S. Thakur and C. Nagappan asked senior counsel C.S. Vaidyanathan, who appeared for the Bengal government.

Justice Thakur, heading the bench, made the observation after the state submitted in a sealed report the names ofthose who were allegedly part of a larger conspiracy in the deposit-default scandal.

The court asked the state about the context in which the Saradha Group allegedly made payments of Rs 28 crore to former Union minister Matang Singh and Rs 6 lakh to MLA Anjan Datta.

The court made the query while going through the contents of the sealed report, which it later ordered to be resealed.

Vaidyanathan told the court that police investigations had revealed that Rs 28 crore was paid to Matang Singh in relation to a share transaction. Datta was paid by the company to buy some of his properties, the lawyer said.

“The kind of power the persons involved wield in the system should all be taken into consideration. Thus, it is clear it is not an ordinary case but an extraordinary case. We only hope the case does not come to an end because of the power of political personalities,” the bench told the state.

Another lawyer appearing for Trinamul MP Kunal Ghosh, now in judicial custody, made an oral plea before the bench for transferring the case to the CBI. But the court said it would not hear him at this stage.

Vaidyanathan pleaded with the court not to transfer the investigation to the CBI as the state police were doing a “sincere and honest job”.

He said the state was willing to furnish weekly reports on the investigation.

But the court observed: “What type of monitoring can be done by the court? We may be able to evaluate the reports submitted by you but the investigation has to be done by an independent investigating agency.”

Vaidyanathan said the investigation should not be entrusted with the CBI as the names of some Union ministers and those “who are under the Centre are involved”.

“My Lordships, it would not be proper to entrust the case to the CBI. Because people who are under the Centre are involved,” he said without elaborating.

He said everybody knew how the CBI functioned in political matters. “I am afraid of the CBI, I do not want any probe by the CBI,” the counsel said.

The bench asked: “You or the state?”

The counsel replied: “I mean myself.”

The bench then posted the matter for further hearing on April 16. The state has been directed to furnish all details on various individuals’ roles in the larger conspiracy.

At the last hearing on March 26, the court had expressed dissatisfaction with the 280-odd chargesheets filed in the Saradha scandal and said the state had not disclosed the “larger conspiracy”.