Arpita Mukherjee, whose name had emerged while searching documents in former education minister Partha Chatterjee’s Naktala home leading to the seizure of more than Rs 21 crore cash from her flat in a housing complex near Tollygunge on Friday, was denied bail and hospitalisation on Sunday.
A magistrate remanded Arpita — a 39-year-old actress — in the custody of the Enforcement Directorate for one day while doctors at the Joka ESI Hospital said Arpita did not need to be admitted in the hospital. Arpita had claimed she needed to get admitted when taken to the hospital for the routine medical examination before her court production on Sunday morning.
The central agency’s prosecution lawyer submitted before the court that as more than Rs 21 crore cash and more than 1000 USD have been seized from Arpita’s flat, there was a need to find out the origin of the cash and the source of her income related to the multiple property deeds that were found in her home.
Sections of prevention of money laundering act have been slapped against her. Sources in the central agency said a separate case under the foreign exchange management act may also be started against her as she was allegedly found in possession of unaccounted foreign currency notes.
After interrogating Arpita after her arrest on Saturday evening, she was taken to ESI Hospital in Joka on Sunday morning where she had complained of illness and had requested admission. However, doctors said that she did not need to be admitted.
“She is a close aide to state minister Partha Chatterjee. The Enforcement Directorate officers have found heaps of jewellery and unaccounted cash the origin of which the accused has failed to explain. We strongly object to her bail petition,” said the prosecution lawyer representing the central agency. The central agency has found multiple property deeds from the house of Partha Chatterjee that purportedly bore Arpita’s name.
Arpita’s lawyers, however, said that she had the right to defend herself and if, according to the Enforcement Directorate, the seizure was “complete” there was no need to keep her in their custody any longer.
“My client has an elderly mother. There is no question of her leaving the city. My client is not influential enough to either tamper any evidence or influence any of the witnesses. Hence, we had sought her bail,” said Arpita’s lawyer Soham Bandopadhyay.
The court after listening to both the sides rejected her bail petition and sent her to ED’s custody for a day. She will be produced before the court again on Monday.
The court on Sunday ordered that being a woman, Arpita would not be subjected to interrogation between 9pm and 6am and that she could be questioned only in presence of woman police personnel.
The vehicle in which Arpita Mukherjee was being taken from the court to the Enforcement Directorate’s office in Salt Lake after her court production, met with an accident on Sunday evening. Police said one of the vehicles in the ED officers’ convoy had suddenly slammed the brakes to prevent collision with another car. “As a result there was a pile-up. Arpita suffered minor injuries that did not need hospitalisation,” said an ED officer.