Former West Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee and some former officials of the education department were sent to judicial remand from the CBI’s custody on Wednesday in a case related to alleged irregularities in recruitments for government-aided schools.
The central agency’s prayer to interrogate the accused persons in jail was turned down by the special CBI court in Alipore.
Counsel for the CBI on Wednesday submitted that Chatterjee had “not cooperated” with the agency when he was in its custody.
“Dr Partha Chattopadhyay was subjected to custodial/ confrontational interrogation on the basis of incriminating investigative materials collected so far; but accused Dr Chattopadhyay didn’t extend any cooperation in regard thereto and kept evading the questions put before him, accordingly, the purpose of his aforesaid interrogation during police custody was not served,” the agency submitted in the court in writing.
Chatterjee has been booked under IPC sections on criminal conspiracy, cheating, fraud and common intention and also under the prevention of corruption act.
The other accused who were on Wednesday sent to judicial remand from the CBI custody were S.P. Sinha, former chairman of the school service commission’s advisory committee; Ashok Saha, former secretary-cum-chairman of the school service commission; and Kalyanmoy Ganguly, former president of the state board of secondary education.
All three have been arrested for allegedly appointing undeserving and unlisted candidates to Group C posts in government-aided schools.
The CBI on Wednesday submitted they found an “incriminating role of accused Dr Partha Chattopadhyay, the then MIC in the alleged issuance of fake appointment letters on the basis of forged recommendation letters”. The agency was referring to Chatterjee’s stint as minister in charge (MIC) of the education department.
The central agency which took Chatterjee’s custody on September 16 had him in their remand till Wednesday. The agency on Wednesday submitted a prayer for judicial remand of Chatterjee and other accused with the permission to interrogate him in jail.
Sk. Salim Rahman, the lawyer who appeared for Chatterjee, countered the CBI’s allegation of “non-cooperation” against him, saying the former minister had the right to remain silent and that could not be interpreted as non-cooperation.
“The CBI wanted forceful admission from my client, which he resisted. Remaining silent can’t be interpreted as non-cooperation,” the lawyer said.
Rahman added that the fact that the CBI did not seek any further remand of Chatterjee was an indication that they did not have anything else to know from him. He moved a bail petition for Chatterjee and said: “Making future seizures can not be an excuse for objecting bail.”
The CBI also moved a prayer to add IPC Section 467— which deals with the offence of forgery — in the case.
After hearing both sides, the special judge for CBI cases in the Alipore court sent Chatterjee and others to judicial remand till October 5 but rejected the agency’s prayer to interrogate him in jail. The court also allowed the defence lawyers to file an objection application against the inclusion of Section 467.
Ganguly, Sinha and Saha, too, were sent to judicial custody for the same period of time.
Chatterjee and others were shifted to Presidency Correctional Home on Wednesday evening.
Chatterjee had been in the same jail in connection with a money laundering case for which he had been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in July.