Kolkata: A city court today rejected the bail plea of West Bengal Transport Minister Madan Mitra and remanded him in judicial custody till 16 January even as he claimed innocence saying he was ready to be hanged if found guilty.
Judicial magistrate of Alipore court Monikuntala Roy extended the judicial remand of Mitra, who was arrested on 12 December, by 14 days on a prayer by CBI.
“I will accept an order to be hanged if even a rupee is found to have been transferred to Madan Mitra’s fund from Saradha,” the minister told the court.
He has been charged under sections 420 and 406 of IPC, which can invite a maximum punishment of seven years in jail, if convicted.
Pleading innocence, Mitra said, “In 2009 I had no idea about NBFCs. Previous chit fund scams relating to ‘Sanchaita’ occurred when I was very young and was in school.”
“I was told by some youths in 2009 that Saradha was buying huge tracts of land in South 24-Parganas district from farmers, but was refusing payment to them,” Mitra claimed.
“Then I went to Saradha Garden to enquire on the issue and was told by the Saradha Group people that they were a small company and that it was difficult for them to pay.
“I told them that what is small today will become big someday, little drops of water make a river,” he said, seeking to explain the context of his controversial statement at a Saradha Group get together, which is being seen by certain sections as inviting people to invest in Saradha Group chit funds.
“I also told them that as an MLA I will take care of any legal problem if and when it arises,” Mitra, who was then MLA of Bishnupur South Assembly constituency in South 24-Parganas district, said, adding that if he had uttered a single more word in this regard, then he was ready to accept any punishment.
Earlier during the hearing, Mitra’s counsel Ashok Mukherjee submitted before the magistrate that his client being a minister and a respectable person would neither abscond nor try to tamper with any evidence in regard to the case.
Mukherjee said that any condition imposed by the court for granting of bail was acceptable to them and claimed that Mitra was kept behind bars because of political vendetta.
CBI counsel Partha Sarathi Dutta opposed the bail prayer, claiming that huge funds were transferred to Mitra by the Saradha Group and that he had played an active part in connivance with the group’s chairman Sudipta Sen, the main accused in the case, in the multi-crore chit fund scam spread across several states.
Mitra was arrested on 12 December and following two installments of CBI custody, he was sent to judicial remand on 19 December.
He was, however, admitted to state-run SSKM Hospital on the same evening following complaints of chest pain and uneasiness and was there for most part of his judicial remand before he was shifted back to Alipore Central Jail on 28 December after the doctors gave the go-ahead for his release from hospital.
The magistrate today directed the jail authorities to ensure medical aid to Mitra.