KOLKATA: The Calcutta high court on Tuesday refused to provide any relief to Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Anubrata Mondol from appearing before the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with the ongoing cattle smuggling scam.
A division bench of the Calcutta high court comprising Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj upheld the order of a single bench while refusing to grant protection from arrest to the TMC leader.
On March 18, a single bench of justice Rajasekhar Mantha denied Mondol any relief from appearing before CBI after which he moved the division bench on March 21.
The TMC leader has already been summoned by the central agency at least four times. CBI wanted to question Mondol in the muti-crore cattle smuggling scam not as an accused, but as a witness.
CBI, which has field offices in Birbhum and the adjoining West Burdwan district, summoned Mondal to its regional head office at Nizam Palace in south Kolkata, Mondal has been skipping summons citing medical ailments. He requested CBI to question him at a place nearer to his residence considering the ongoing pandemic.
“Having carefully heard the submissions of the parties, this Court notes that indeed the petitioner has been traveling outside Bolpur and on a couple of instances travelled all the way to Howrah. He has appeared in Kolkata before the Medical Board, the ailments referred to by the Medical Board are not as serious as to require the petitioner to remain confined to his home or a hospital,” the single bench said.
The division bench on Tuesday observed that the order of the single bench does not suffer from any error.
According to CBI FIR, the cattle seized by the Border Security Force (BSF) were undervalued and auctioned with the help of some customs officers so that traders could buy these at very low price and legally sell them again in Bangladesh. Part of the sale proceeds allegedly went to some TMC leaders and government officers. The probe was started by CBI in 2018.
Several state police officers along with BSF and Customs officials are suspects in the case which is being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) as well. Two BSF officers and a state police inspector have been arrested so far. Bengali movie star and TMC Lok Sabha member Deepak Adhikari was interrogated by CBI for five hours in Kolkata on February 15.