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CBI probe into Saradha scam not allowed by HC

June 19, 2013 20:33 IST

The Calcutta high court on Wednesday did not allow a Central Bureau of investigation probe into the multi-crore Saradha scam at the present stage and directed that the Special Investigation Team of the state police would continue with its inquiry which would be monitored by the court.

A division bench comprising Justice A K Banerjee and Justice M K Chaudhuri directed the state investigation agency to submit monthly report of progress with the Registrar

General of the high court on the last day of each English calendar month commencing from June 30, 2013 until the proceedings are brought to a logical conclusion or until further orders.

Observing that the Supreme Court has time and again cautioned that the court's power to order a CBI probe should be exercised sparingly and not as a matter of routine, the bench in its 69-page order said, "Hence, at the end of the day, we find our power should be sparingly used, that too in an extraordinary situation."

The bench, however, directed that "The SIT would extend all support that would be asked for by any central agency for carrying out investigation at their level including inspection of records, providing copies if asked for and permissible in law."

It directed that the central agencies would also be reasonable in this count having regard to the fact that the SIT would be hardpressed for time and would be busy with their present assignment and that central agency must approach them only with prior appointment.

The bench asked the state government to establish a special court, if necessary, in consultation with the high court administration so that all cases relating to Saradha could be heard by one special court having power to take cognisance, frame charges and conduct sessions.

The division bench said the "state should also examine the possibility of establishing one more special court of similar nature dealing with identical cases of other groups, if any lodged with the police in any police station of the state."

The bench also suggested to the state government that the Justice Shyamal Sen (retired) Commission appointed for the purpose should be clothed with power to dispose of all assets belonging to Saradha group or their agents or their benamdars in case commission is satisfied with the money invested by the said agent or benamdars for acquiring such property with the money collected from depositors under the collective investment scheme floated by Saradha group.

The court suggested that the commission should have power to have appropriate mode of recovery of debts on behalf of Saradha group from its debtors and add the proceeds to the fund to be created for this purpose.

It directed that all bank accounts belonging to Saradha group and their sister concerns, the personal bank accounts of directors would stand attached and the respective banks were restrained by an order of injunction from allowing anyone to operate such account unless authorised by the commission.

It was suggested that the commission would prepare a list of depositors upon verification of respective claims.

Upon a list being prepared the Commission would distribute the amounts to the depositors in the manner as it would feel prudent, the division bench suggested.

The bench directed that the three petitions praying for CBI probe be clubbed together and placed as specially assigned matter one week after the Puja vacation to take stock of the situation and if necessary, to pass further direction or order in this regard.

Saradha group chairman Sudipta Sen was arrested from Sonmarg in Kashmir on April 23 alongwith two close associates.

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