Calcutta HC grants relief to TMC’s Abhishek Banerjee in school jobs scam casetext_fields
Kolkata: A Calcutta High Court judge on Friday directed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) not to take any coercive action against Trinamul Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee in connection with the alleged school job scam.
Justice Tirthankar Ghosh, however, did not quash the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR), equivalent to an FIR, filed by the ED which had references to Banerjee.
However, the court said that the central agency could continue with the investigation and if required take “action” if they could collect enough evidence against him in the future.
“At this stage of the investigation, the ED could not produce sufficient proof against Banerjee. At this stage of the investigation, the ED cannot take any coercive measures against the petitioner (Banerjee),” the judge said.
The order came as an interim relief for the Trinamul national general secretary, who has been named as an accused in the alleged irregularities in recruitment in government-aided schools.
Justice Ghosh, however, turned down Banerjee’s plea that the Enforcement Directorate’s ECIR against him be quashed.
The ECIR is a formal entry of the complaint lodged by the ED against any person.
Clarifying the order, Justice Ghosh said: “The documents submitted before the court related to the interrogation of Sujay Bhadra and seizing of files from Leaps and Bounds company is not enough for the court to allow the Enforcement Directorate to take coercive measures against Banerjee.”
The judge also made it clear that Banerjee would have to cooperate with the ED and appear before it whenever required.
Lawyers on the ED’s panel said they would move a higher bench against Justice Ghosh’s order. Friday’s order followed a prayer by Banerjee seeking quashing of the ED’s ECIR against him.
In his petition, Banerjee said he was in “no way connected with the case” but the agencies, under the “instigation” of a particular political party, had been harassing him by issuing repeated summons.
While the petition was pending before Justice Ghosh, another single-bench judge of the court, Justice Amrita Sinha, issued an order instructing the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to expedite its investigation into Banerjee and to conduct a raid on Leaps and Bounds, a company where Banerjee is purportedly the CEO.
Justice Sinha's directive came in response to an ED statement, indicating that Sujay Bhadra, a former director of Leaps and Bounds and an arrested accused, had confessed to depositing funds from the allegedly irregular recruitments into the company.
In response to Justice Sinha’s directive, the ED raided the company’s office and downloaded and “seized” 16 files.
Banerjee's legal representative subsequently informed Justice Ghosh about this seizure, prompting the judge to order the presentation of these files before his court. Subsequently, Justice Ghosh enlisted the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) to examine and produce a report based on these files.
The CFSL carried out the court’s order and submitted a report. Justice Ghosh’s order on Friday was based on the report filed by the CFSL.