The Calcutta High Court on Sunday directed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to take West Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee, arrested in connection with the school jobs scam, to AIIMS Bhubaneswar early on Monday by air ambulance. The court directed that the minister, who held the education portfolio during the time of the appointment scam in which teaching jobs in state government-sponsored and aided schools were allegedly offered in lieu of money, be produced before a special ED court in Kolkata through virtual mode at 4 PM on Monday.

“The investigating agency is directed to take the accused by air ambulance to AIIMS, Bhubaneswar in the early morning on 25th July, 2022,” Justice Bibek Chaudhuri directed. After hearing pleadings in a revision application moved by the ED challenging a lower court order sending Chatterjee to state-run SSKM Hospital after his lawyers claimed he was ill, Justice Chaudhuri directed that the AIIMS, Bhubaneswar authority will medically examine the accused by a team of specialist doctors of cardiology, nephrology, respiratory medicines and endocrinology.

The high court directed AIIMS, Bhubaneswar to prepare a report and hand over the copies to the investigating officer and the medical officer of SSKM Hospital, who would accompany Chatterjee in the air ambulance, and his advocate by 3 PM on Monday. The report will be produced before the special judge in Kolkata, who will take up the matter at 4 PM in which Chatterjee will be produced through the virtual mode, Justice Chaudhuri directed, disposing of the petition by the ED.

Top Updates:

• Partha Chatterjee on Monday left Kolkata airport and boarded an air ambulance on his way to AIIMS Bhubaneswar where he will be treated.

• Arpita Mukherjee Sent to 1-day ED Custody: A city court on Sunday remanded Arpita Mukherjee, an alleged close associate of arrested West Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee, to one-day Enforcement Directorate (ED) custody. Mukherjee was arrested by the ED on Saturday after grilling her for several hours at her residence in a posh apartment block in south Kolkata, where crores of rupees in cash and other valuables were allegedly recovered by sleuths of the central agency.

Meanwhile, the car ferrying Mukherjee met with an accident, ANI reported. “Vehicle carrying Arpita Mukherjee, close aide of West Bengal cabinet minister Partha Chatterjee met with a minor accident, while she was being taken to the CGO complex from Bankshall court in Kolkata,” said the agency in a tweet, while sharing the visuals of the damaged car.

Metropolitan Magistrate Namrata Singh, in charge of the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate court, directed that Mukherjee be produced before the designated ED court on Monday. ED counsels, including Abhijit Bhadra, had prayed for 14 days’ custody of Mukherjee. Noting that the investigation is at an initial stage, the court said “custodial interrogation of the accused is necessary for extracting the whole truth of the case. In his submission, Bhadra likened the investigation in the case to peeling onion petals as new revelations come to the fore with the peeling of each petal.

• SFI Stages Protest: CPI(M)’s students wing SFI on Sunday staged a protest demanding the arrest of all those involved in the school jobs scam. Around 50 members of the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) led by its state committee member Shuvajit Sarkar said that even though minister Partha Chatterjee has been arrested, others in the ruling establishment who were involved in the scam are yet to be nabbed.”We urge the ED to bring to the book all those involved in the scam. The students of West Bengal want that,” Sarkar said. The agitators beat drums and raised slogans during their demonstration at Sealdah railway station. TMC general secretary Kunal Ghosh accused the CPI(M) of doing “cheap politics”. “The CPI(M) seems to have forgotten its 34-year-long rule, during which several scams took place but none were investigated. Former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya had once said that he did not want to be part of a ‘government of thieves’. How can the CPI(M) of SFI lecture us about corruption?” Ghosh added.

• Partha Chatterjee Gives Mamata Banerjee’s Name in Arrest Memo: The Trinamool Congress leadership might have distanced itself from party leader Partha Chatterjee, but for Chatterjee, Trinamool supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee continues to be the sole and final source of solace, as became evident from his arrest memo. ED sources told IANS that while taking anyone into custody, the agency sleuths follow a procedure of issuing an arrest memo. That procedure involves asking the person to be arrested the name and contact number of one person whom he/she might wish to contact while in custody. The name and contact details of that person are mentioned in the arrest memo. In this case, Chatterjee, who’s the state Commerce and Industries Minister as well as the party’s Secretary General, mentioned the name and mobile number of Mamata Banerjee, which were subsequently added to the arrest memo. In fact, while being taken for medical check-up by the ED sleuths on Saturday afternoon, Chatterjee said, “I do not know where they are taking me. I tried, but I have not been able to contact my supreme leader Mamata Banerjee yet.”

• ED Takes RBI Help to Ferry Cash, Valuables: The Enforcement Directorate (ED), which recovered huge cash and valuables from the residence of Arpita Mukherjee, close aide of West Bengal Commerce & Industries Minister, Partha Chatterjee, had to take the help of the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) regional office in Kolkata to ferry the cash and valuables to the agency’s office at CGO complex at Salt Lake in Kolkata. Late on Saturday evening, after ED officials finished the counting and evaluating the estimated value of the cash and valuables, a truck from RBI’s regional office in Kolkata arrived at the posh Diamond City complex at Tollygunge in South Kolkata, which housed the flat of Mukherjee. ED officials confirmed that the truck was carrying 20 steel trunks meant for carrying the valuables seized from Mukherjee’s residence. Later, 15 trunks that were loaded with the cash and valuables and the remaining five empty trunks were brought to the ED office at CGO complex.

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