Supreme Court 7-day breather for coal-theft accused
The Supreme Court on Tuesday extended the shield against arrest for Anup Majhi a.k.a. Lala, the alleged mastermind in the multi-crore coal pilferage case in Bengal, by seven days till April 13.
Majhi will have to cooperate with the CBI, which is probing into the case with the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
The apex court, however, issued this order on a day Bengal completed the third phase of polling and started gearing up for the fourth.
The extension of Majhi’s shield against his arrest came as a damper of sorts for the CBI which has been gearing up for some time to appeal before the apex court for removing the ban on his arrest. The central investigating agency has been questioning Majhi for several days in a row now. On Monday, a section of senior officers were of the opinion that the man behind the multi-crore case was not divulging any details and hence his custodial interrogation was necessary.
The Supreme Court turned down the plea on Tuesday while extending its shield on Majhi’s arrest.
“We will again appeal for Anup Majhi’s custody after the completion of the seven-day period,” said a senior CBI officer in Calcutta.
Majhi’s breather came within 24-hours of the ED attaching his immovable assets worth Rs 165.86 crore on Monday.
The assets included land parcels, factory premises, plant and machinery and other properties of two companies — the Ispat Damodar Private Limited and Sonic Thermal Private Limited.
Senior ED officers claimed Majhi created several shell companies to park huge sums allegedly generated from illegal coal mining. The idea was to prove that this amount was no way related to the proceeds of crime, they said.
Several senior Trinamul leaders alleged the probe against Majhi by central agencies when polls are underway in Bengal is the part of a grand design by the BJP-led Centre.
“Our leaders are being summoned in the Saradha (deposit-mobilising scam) case now. The number of seizures and arrests in different cases have suddenly gone up. All this is a part of a grand design aimed at maligning Trinamul before the next phase of polls,” said a senior Trinamul leader.