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Calcutta HC Makes ED a Party in Disproportionate Assets Case of 19 TMC Leaders

The case on which this verdict has been given started in 2017 based on the suspected increase of disproportionate assets of TMC MLAs and ministers between 2011 and 2016.
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Calcutta high court. Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court has directed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to be made a party in the disproportionate assets case of 19 Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders who have allegedly amassed huge wealth which is not proportionate to their income. The verdict was announced on Monday following a public interest litigation filed against the erring TMC leaders.

It can be recalled that this order comes as a second setback for the TMC in the last fortnight after Partha Chatterjee - number two in the Mamata Banerjee cabinet - had been caught red handed with nearly Rs 51 crore in cash and ornaments from the house of his close confidante. He is now languishing in a city jail.

On Monday the division bench of chief justice Prakash Srivastava and justice Rajyashree Bhardwaj pronounced this verdict, and notified that henceforward the Enforcement Directorate was to be a party to the case. The verdict effectively starts an ED probe about the disproportionate assets of this 19 TMC leaders

Interestingly all the leaders and their spouses, many of whom are housewives, in the various affidavits filed in the court and before the state election commission had named their profession as social workers. However, after becoming MLA and ministers their personal income has increased by more than 100% in each case.

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Political observers have cited the case of Partha Chatterjee who showed his declared income to be a few crores but his undeclared income turned out to be more than a few hundred crores.

Prominent amongst those whose names figures in the list includes the state’s present urban development minister Firhaad Hakim, present speaker of the Assembly Arup Roy, late ministers Sadhan Pande and Subrata Mukherjee, former finance minister Amit Mitra, among other prominent names.

Sabyasachi Chatterjee who has been a lawyer on behalf of the public interest litigants said that “Many of those whose names figures in the list have been lawyers; however, none of them went to the courts to practise after they were assigned ministerial positions. Then how come their income has increased in such huge proportions?”

This verdict of the High Court has rung a warning bell among the TMC leadership. At first, party sources did not want to comment on the subject, but later TMC leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy alleged that only the TMC had been singled out: “Why has there been no probe against the Congress, BJP or the Samajwadi party?”

The case on which this verdict has been given started in 2017 based on the suspected increase of disproportionate assets of TMC MLAs and ministers between 2011 and 2016.

The litigants of the case are Biplab Choudhury and Anindyasundar Das. Shamim Ahmad who also was a lawyer for litigants in the case said that after 2017 this amount had increased manifolds so the additions would be placed in the court through a new affidavit.

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