Partial relief came in Trinamul Congress’s perceived second-in-command, Abhishek Banerjee’s way on Thursday after the Calcutta High court ruled that no coercive steps are to be taken against the leader on the basis of Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR), the Enforcement Directorate’s equivalent of an FIR, filed against him by the agency in connection with its job scam probe in the primary school education sector.
The court immunity was granted to Banerjee on grounds that the ED failed to submit comprehensive and sufficient evidence of the leader’s involvement in the scam based on investigations the agency carried out till date that may warrant an arrest.
The Bench, however, refused to entertain Banerjee’s petition to quash the ECIR filed against him by the agency and added that investigations against Banerjee would continue. In the eventuality of the ED coming up with new and compelling evidence against the accused, the investigation officer of the probe agency would have a free hand in acting against Banerjee in accordance with Section 19 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the court ruled.
The probe agency, reportedly submitted statements of interrogation against Sujay Krishna Bhadra alias ‘Kalighat-er Kaku’, one of the prime suspects in the cash-for-jobs scam and evidences it collected from its raids on Leaps and Bounds, the firm in which Banerjee is a former director and the current CEO. Banerjee’s name got dragged into the case after former Trinamul youth leader and a suspect in the case Kuntal Ghosh alleged that the central agencies were putting pressure on him to name the leader as a beneficiary in the scam and Calcutta High Court judge Abhijit Gangopadhyay subsequently directing the agencies to question Banerjee in the case, if required.
In his petition Banerjee had drawn the court’s attention to the ED search operations in his company premises and alleged foul play on part of the agency in the wake of the 16 external downloaded files on one of his office computers which he maintained was the handiwork of the raiders.
Banerjee has already appeared before the CBI and the ED once each in connection with the case. In his last appearance before the ED on September 13, the leader was quizzed for nearly nine hours.