The Supreme Court has agreed to hear on May 26 a plea filed by senior Trinamool Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee against his questioning by the CBI in the school jobs scam case.
Following his quizzing by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) sleuths on May 20, Banerjee has sought the apex court’s direction that no coercive steps be taken against him by the agency.
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Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for Banerjee, mentioned the matter for urgent listing before a vacation bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Sanjay Karol.
The bench said the plea would be heard on Friday (May 26).
Banerjee figured in the case after his name cropped up in a complaint filed by Kuntal Ghosh, a local businessman and an accused in the school jobs scam. Ghosh had alleged that central investigating agencies were pressuring him to name Banerjee, who is the national general secretary of the TMC, in the case.
The agency’s summons came within 24 hours of the Calcutta High Court dismissing on Thursday (May 18) a petition filed by Banerjee seeking recall of a previous court’s order, which said that investigative agencies such as the CBI and ED could interrogate him in the teacher recruitment scam case.
An attempt on Friday to get a division bench and, after that, the chief justice of the Calcutta High Court to hear his revision plea did not yield results.
While mentioning the matter before the apex court, Singhvi said Banerjee has already been quizzed for over nine hours by the CBI and the TMC leader is apprehending that he may be arrested if called against for questioning by the agency.
“I (Banerjee) am asking for no coercive step,” Singhvi told the bench, while requesting it to list the matter for hearing in this week.
The bench agreed to hear the plea on Friday and told Singhvi to ask his junior counsel to go to the mentioning officer.
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After his questioning was over on May 20, Banerjee had told the mediapersons keeping vigil outside the CBI’s office at Nizam Palace in Kolkata that the questioning was a waste of time for both him and the investigative agency’s officers, but he “cooperated in all that was asked”.
The TMC leader, who is also the nephew of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, had alleged that while party leaders who were unwilling to bend were being harassed, BJP leaders who had been involved in various cases were allowed to go scot-free.
The two-time TMC MP from Diamond Harbour was questioned by the ED twice in the coal pilferage case in the agency’s office in Delhi in 2021 and also in Kolkata in 2022.
While the CBI is probing the criminal aspect of the scam, the ED is looking into the money trail involved in the alleged irregularities in the school recruitment scam.
Banerjee, who was on the campaign trail in Bankura in western Bengal, had rushed back to Kolkata Friday night to answer the summons sent by the central investigative agency.
(With inputs from agencies)