SC refuses to stay ED, CBI probe against Abhishek Banerjee in Bengal recruitment case

New Delhi, May 26 : The Supreme Court on Friday declined to stay the Calcutta High Court's direction allowing the ED and CBI to probe Trinamool Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee in connection with the multi-crore recruitment case in state-run schools of West Bengal. A bench comprising Justices J.K. Maheshwari and P.S. Narasimha said that as far as an investigation is concerned, the court is not inclined to interfere. However, the bench stayed the high court's order imposing a Rs 25 lakh cost on the party's national General Secretary. Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju, representing the ED, submitted that the high court order only said that investigate if you want and independently of that order, the probe agency has power of investigation. "That power is unfettered and it cannot be usurped," said Raju. Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Banerjee, that his client was giving a speech and had nothing to do with the matter and in the speech, he does not refer to any judge. Singhvi further argued that a direction is given that he should be investigated and said he will show the errors in the order. The bench said it will post the matter after summer vacations and agreed to stay the cost. The top court has scheduled the matter for further hearing in the second week of July. On May 22, Singhvi had submitted before the apex court that Banerjee was being called for questioning while campaigning outside the state and urged the court for early listing of the matter. The bench agreed to examine the matter on Friday. On May 18, the Calcutta High Court's single-judge bench of Justice Amrita Sinha upheld the previous order by the bench of Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay of the same court empowering the central agencies to question Banerjee. Justice Sinha also empowered the CBI and ED to question accused in the case and expelled youth Trinamool Congress leader Kuntal Ghosh in connection with the latter's allegations accusing the agencies of putting pressure on him to name Banerjee in the case. Justice Sinha also imposed a penalty of Rs 25 lakhs each on Banerjee and Ghosh. Originally Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay had empowered the central agencies to question Banerjee. He then approached the Supreme Court in the matter. Following the order of the Supreme Court, two related cases in the matter were transferred to the bench of Justice Amrita Sinha. /IANS


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