Arrested Bengal minister denied bail again, hospitalised

Kolkata: West Bengal Transport and Sports Minister Madan Mitra, arrested in the multi-crore rupee Saradha scam, was Friday again denied bail and sent to judicial custody till Jan 2 by a court here. He was admitted to hospital later after complaining of chest pains.

Arrested Dec 12 by the CBI for criminal conspiracy, cheating and deriving undue financial benefits, Mitra's bail plea was rejected for the third time, as Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Haradhan Mukherjee sent him to 14 days judicial custody.

Pressing for bail, Mitra's counsel argued that there was no evidence against Mitra in the charge sheet submitted by the Central Bureau of Investigation Nov 17.

"The CBI charge sheet submitted before the court has indicted nine people but there is not even a whisper is mentioned about Mitra's complicity in the scam. The CBI has examined so many witnesses but none of them have ever mentioned anything about Mitra's involvement in the scam," said defence counsel Ashok Mukherjee.

The defence also pleaded for bail on health grounds asserting that besides high blood pressure and cholesterol, Mitra was suffering from sleep apnea and was vulnerable to a heart attack.

Pleading before the court, Mitra said that he was being pressurized by the CBI sleuths to give his voice record.

The CBI had Dec 16 had urged the court to allow them to record Mitra's voice sample for corroborating some digital documents that they have come across. But the court then had rejected the plea.

"Yesterday (Thursday) a CBI officer forcibly wanted to record my voice. When I denied saying the court has not granted the permission, he told me that I would be going against the Supreme Court if I did not gave the voice sample," said Mitra who has been accusing the agency of forcing him to name West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in the scam.

"The CBI claims my presence in some Saradha events helped the company to dupe lakhs of investors. If it is so then why not a single depositor so far has given a statement that my speech in Saradha events led them to invest in the company," he argued.

Opposing the bail, CBI counsel P.S. Dutta contended that being a powerful and influential political leader, Mitra might attempt to destroy or tamper with the evidence.

"During the course of investigation we have come across several new facts and granting bail to Mitra will be prejudicial to the investigation," he contended.

After hearing both the parties, the court rejected Mitra's bail plea. The court also directed the jail authorities to provide medical assistance to Mitra if and when required.

Mitra was then taken to Alipore Central Correctional Home following his remand to judicial custody till Jan 2 by a court here. After he complained of chest pain, he was brought to the government run SSKM Hospital.

"He has been admitted to the cardiology department after he complained of chest pain and respiratory distress," an attending doctor said.

Prior to his arrest, Mitra was admitted first to a city nursing home before getting himself admitted to the SSKM from where he was released Nov 26.

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