Partha Chatterjee, currently industries and commerce minister, held the education portfolio when the alleged scam was pulled off.
West Bengal Minister Partha Chatterjee was today arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with a money laundering case linked to the alleged teacher recruitment scam in the state. The arrest comes hours after ₹ 20 crore was recovered from a close aide of the minister.
The Trinamool leader was questioned throughout the night following the recovery of the cash. During the questioning, Mr Chatterjee did not co-operate with the investigators as a result of which he was arrested, official sources told NDTV.
“Partha Chatterjee was arrested after overnight interrogation. During questioning, Mr Chatterjee complained of uneasiness following which his health was examined by two doctors brought by the investigators. The questioning resumed after the doctors gave a go-ahead,” an official source told NDTV.
The source added that the probe agency will seek his custody before the court to get further details about the alleged recruitment scam. The Trinamool leader’s personal secretary has also been arrested, officials said.
Currently, industries and commerce minister, Mr Chatterjee held the education portfolio when the alleged scam was pulled off.
The Trinamool Congress said it is keeping a “close watch” on the situation. “We will come out with a statement at an appropriate time,” party spokerpserson Kunal Ghosh said.
Speaker Biman Banerjee said the probe agency must inform the speaker before arresting a member of the assembly.
“The ED or CBI, while arresting any MP or MLA, has to inform the speaker of the Lok Sabha or assembly. This is the constitutional norm. But I have not received any communication from ED about Chatterjee’s arrest,” he said.
Mr Chatterjee was arrested after around 26 hours of interrogation.
His questioning – which began Friday morning – was carried out throughout the night after ₹ 20 crore was recovered from the house of his close associate of Arpita Mukherjee.
“The said amount is suspected to be proceeds of crime of the said SSC scam,” the probe agency said in a statement.
Trinamool Congress has distanced itself from Arpita Mukherjee saying she has no links with the party.
“The money recovered by ED has nothing to do with Trinamool. Those who are named in this investigation, it is their responsibility to answer the questions related to them or their lawyers,” TMC General Secretary Kunal Ghosh tweeted.
Apart from the Enforcement Directorate, or ED, the alleged scam is being investigated by Central Bureau of Investigation. While the ED is looking into the money trail in the scam, the CBI is investigating the alleged irregularities in the recruitment of Group-C and D staff and teachers in state-sponsored and aided schools.
The ruling Trinamool Congress described the raids as a “ploy” by the BJP government at the Centre to “harass” its political opponents. Denying any role to play in the issue, the BJP has claimed the CBI and ED are “progressing on right path” and that “more skeletons will tumble out of the cupboard”.
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