2016 Admission Cards, Land Documents – Why ED Arrested TMC’s Partha Chatterjee In SSC Case
Kolkata: Minister of West Bengal and Leader of Trinamool Congress (TMC) Partha Chatterjee will be airlifted to AIIMS Bhubaneswar on Monday, following an order from the Calcutta High Court.
The Law Enforcement Directorate moved HC on Sunday to seek the transfer of West Bengal’s longest-serving minister from the state-run SSKM Hospital, where he was admitted after his arrest on Saturday. as part of the ongoing investigation into the alleged School Service Commission (SSC) recruitment scam.
Chatterjee will appear before the MP MLA Special Court via video link at 4 p.m. Monday.
The Enforcement Branch (ED) will request 14 days from Chatterjee.
Chatterjee was arrested by the emergency room of his residence on Saturday morning, after 27 hours of questioning. He was brought before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrates Court in Kolkata later the same day.
Becoming aware of allegations of alleged illegal appointments of employees, staff and teachers in public schools, the ED filed an FIR in this regard on June 24 to investigate the money trail under Sections 3 and 4 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002. .
Section 3 of the PMLA states that anyone who directly or indirectly attempts to engage in or knowingly aids or is actually involved in any process or activity relating to the proceeds of crime and projecting it as uncontaminated property shall be guilty of money laundering .
Section 4 of the PMLA, on the other hand, provides that the offense of money laundering is punishable by rigorous imprisonment of up to seven years and not less than three years.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which was tasked with investigating the Calcutta HC allegations on April 7, filed five FIRs in relation to the alleged scam. The ED, on the other hand, launched a separate investigation last month to track down the money in the case.
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Chronology of events
At around 6am on Friday morning, teams of ED officials raided 14 locations in West Bengal linked to the alleged recruitment scam. West Bengal’s Commerce, IT and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee was among those on the agency’s radar in connection with the case.
It was at the residence of Arpita Mukherjee, a ‘close associate’ of Chatterjee, that the ED recovered banknotes worth Rs 21 crore stuffed in envelopes with the seal of the education department of West Bengal.
ED is conducting search operations at various premises linked to a recruitment scam in the West Bengal School Service Commission and West Bengal Primary Education Board. pic.twitter.com/i4dP2SAeGG
— ED (@dir_ed) July 22, 2022
She was also found in possession of at least 20 cell phones.
During the operation, the ED also raided premises linked to Chatterjee’s Special Duty Officer (OSD) PK Bandhopadhyay and his personal secretary Sukanta Acharjee.
Apart from premises linked to Chatterjee and his associates, teams of ED officials also raided the homes of West Bengal Minister of State (MoS) for Education Paresh Adhikary and TMC MP Manik Bhattacharya, who is a former chairman of the West Bengal Board of Primary Education.
Simultaneous search operations were carried out at premises linked to SP Sinha, Counselor of West Bengal Central School Service Commission, Kalyanmoy Ganguly, Former Chairman of West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, Samitra Sarkar, Former Chairman of West Bengal Central School Service Commission, Alok Kumar Sarkar, deputy director of the school education department and three others, including a Chandan Mondal, who allegedly “sold” teaching positions in public schools.
A day after the raids, the ED officially arrested Chatterjee’s “close associate”, Arpita Mukherjee, and detained his personal secretary, Sukanta Acharjee, as part of the investigation. In a press release on Friday, the agency said it seized documents and valuables that it says are “proceeds of crime related to the SSC scam.”
Reasons for the arrest of Partha Chatterjee
ED’s lawyer, while presenting the agency’s case in the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court on Saturday, said that of the 14 locations searched, the agency found two “suspicious locations – the residences of Partha Chatterjee and of his close associate Arpita Mukherjee.
An ED source told ThePrint that the agency recovered two USB drives and several title deeds from the TMC chief’s residence during the searches. Chatterjee was also found in possession of admission cards dating back to 2016 and SSC documents, the source added.
“Why would a minister who is no longer associated with the state Department of Education have these key documents at home,” the ED official said. The official, however, declined to comment on what the agency found on the seized USB drives.
In May this year, The footprint had reported the findings of the Bag Committee appointed by the Calcutta High Court to investigate the alleged SSC fraud. The committee had, in its report, affirmed that the names of the recipients of these “illegal” messages had been sent to the office of the School Services Commission either by mail, CD or USB keys.
What has ED cracking up on the case, however, are photocopies of transfer deeds found at Chatterjee’s residence in the name of his “close associate” Arpita Mukherjee who was remanded to the police on Sunday. ‘ED.
ThePrint also learned from ED sources that these transfer deeds were signed between Partha Chatterjee and Arpita Mukherjee. The agency found that Mukherjee is either associated with or listed as a director of no less than 14 companies. The central agency examines monetary transactions between the minister and these companies.
Sources also revealed that when asked about the documents recovered from his residence, Partha Chatterjee claimed he knew nothing about them. “The suspected person is the head of state affairs and was then the state education minister and therefore there is a need to question him in custody,” the ED official said.
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Arguments put forward in court
Following his arrest, Partha Chatterjee was brought before a packed courtroom of Metropolitan Magistrate Neelam Shashi Kujur on Saturday afternoon. The judge, before hearing arguments, excused Chatterjee from appearing on the stand due to his age and health.
Lawyer Anindya Routh, appearing on Chatterjee’s behalf, argued the TMC chief was wrongfully detained because the ED found no money in his possession during the raids and was only able to recover photocopies of documents.
Routh maintained that the CBI was investigating the alleged SSC scam. He then asked what led ED to be “excited” about the case.
Chatterjee, his lawyer said, has appeared twice before the CBI and is cooperating with the investigation. A 70-year-old man who was raided at 6 a.m. will not flee, argued his lawyer while demanding his release on bail.
Arguing for the ED, Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) Bhashkar Prosad Banerjee said Chatterjee’s arrest had nothing to do with the CBI investigation, adding that the ED was probing the money trail in the case.
“Mr. Chatterjee is a minister and has been sworn in. At the time of research, he declined to give information on how the money had been paid into properties and banks. There is an established connection between Mr. Chatterjee and Arpita Mukherjee. Is the ED not authorized to investigate?
“A financial crime cannot be equated with an ordinary crime according to the Supreme Court, so we have nothing to do with the CBI investigation,” Banerjee said.
The magistrate, after hearing the arguments, ruled that the case did not fall within the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Court and asked both parties to take the matter to the special MP/MLA court on Monday morning. The judge, however, granted his lawyers’ request to allow Partha Chatterjee to be hospitalized at SSKM State Hospital in Kolkata due to his poor health.
SSC scam – everything you need to know
On February 22, a bench of two Calcutta High Court Justices, Harish Tandon and Rabindranath Samanta, set up a commission of inquiry headed by (Retired) Judge Ranjit Bag to investigate the alleged irregularities in the Western public school recruitment process. Bengal.
The Bag Committee, in its report submitted to the HC on May 12, alleged that an ‘illegal’ oversight committee had been set up by then Education Minister Partha Chatterjee in 2019 to fill vacancies .
The report further alleged that the Right to Information (RTI) Act had been used to manipulate the marks of unsuccessful candidates, that the signatures of officials had been forged, that ranks had been altered and that letters of “illegal” appointments had been distributed from the new SSC building to unsuccessful job seekers. exams – this process, the panel said, was followed for Group C and Group D recruitment.
Irregular appointments of primary school teachers and assistants are also under investigation by the CBI.
TMC faces backlash for backing Chatterjee
The Trinamool Congress has no connection to Arpita Mukherjee or the money recovered from her residence, TMC General Secretary Kunal Ghosh told reporters at a press conference on Sunday.
“There are a lot of activists and people from different walks of life who join our programs or are seen on stage, but Arpita is not a member of TMC. As far as ED is concerned, we want a time-limited investigation because the “Opposition is waging a campaign of extortion against us. TMC does not put up with anything bad,” Ghosh said.
Meanwhile, Arpita Mukherjee – while taken into ED custody on Saturday night – claimed she was framed and had done nothing wrong.
” I did not do anything wrong. I am innocent, I am the victim of a set-up,” she told reporters outside her residence.
Arpita has been seen sharing the stage with top TMC executives on more than one occasion, as evidenced by photos on her social media page which are now going viral.
Reacting to the developments, BJP MP Raju Bista told ThePrint: “There is not a single sphere in which the TMC has not raised money. The money ED recovered is just the tip of the iceberg.
“Under TMC, the state witnessed a systematic destruction of the education system. The nominations were based on the candidates’ alliance with the TMC,” he alleged.
The TMC believes that “the people of West Bengal do not understand the levels of corruption”, said Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, the CPIM leader and lawyer representing candidates who failed to get employment in a government school in West Bengal despite ranking in the entrance exam.
“How can TMC say they have no connection now when it has been proven beyond doubt. This ill-gotten money is being used by the party,” the CPIM chief claimed.
(Editing by Amrtansh Arora)
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