The Calcutta High Court on Thursday rejected pleas from three arrested Jharkhand MLAs seeking a transfer of the probe into the case from the state’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to the CBI or any other central investigating agency.
The three Congress MLAs from Jharkhand — Irfan Ansari, Rajesh Kachchap and Naman Bixal Kongari — were arrested by Howrah police on July 31 after over ₹49 lakhs was seized from an SUV carrying them in Panchla.
Following the arrest, the state CID took over the investigation from the Howrah police and has already questioned several persons in this connection so far.
Justice Moushumi Bhattacharya rejected the petitions of each of the three arrested MLAs on the grounds that the accused in a case cannot choose the investigating agency.
Justice Bhattacharya also said the state police have the liberty to investigate the case since the MLAs were arrested in Panchla in Howrah.
“There are several directives by the Supreme Court that state the accused in a case cannot choose the investigating agency,” Justice Bhattacharya said.
Siddharth Luthra appearing for the arrested MLAs argued that the case allegedly involves other states also and as such the Bengal police cannot probe into the matter.
He also said certain procedures were not followed following the arrest. Turning down the plea, Justice Bhattacharya said that CID can continue with its probe without any bias and in a transparent manner.
Appearing on behalf of the state, Anirban Roy, the government pleader told the court that just because the FIR of the case was not immediately uploaded on the central database cannot be a ground for transferring the probe from CID to another agency.
CID officers probing the case said they have reasons to believe that two of the three arrested MLAs had visited Calcutta prior to their visit on July 29. “A Kolkata-based share trader had handed over ₹75 lakhs to the two MLAs then. A day before this amount was transferred, the two Congress MLAs from Jharkhand had met some senior leaders in Guwahati,” said a senior officer of the CID.
“The second round of transfer of ₹49 lakhs took place on July 30, the day the trio was intercepted.”
The Congress, which is a part of the JMM-led government in Jharkhand, has alleged that the BJP was trying to topple the Hemant Soren government by offering ₹10 crore each and a ministerial berth to the MLAs.
The party has also named Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma in the alleged conspiracy.
The BJP, however, rejected the allegations, claiming that Congress was trying to hide its own corruption