Partha Chatterjee, currently in judicial custody in the teachers recruitment scam case, has reportedly expressed anguish over the arrangement of his virtual presence in the next hearing at the special court of Enforcement Directorate (ED) on August 31.
Instead, he has told the prison authorities that he would be more comfortable with the traditional physical presence system at the time of hearing.
On August 23, the court approved a prayer from the authorities of the Presidency Central Correctional Home, where Chatterjee is housed now, for his virtual presence during the next hearing on August 31. The court also approved the virtual presence of Chatterjee’s close aide, Arpita Mukherjee, as per a separate appeal made by the Alipore Women’s Correctional Home authorities. Both the prison authorities made these appeals citing security reasons.
After being informed of the new arrangement, Partha Chatterjee told his counsel that the Presidency Central Correctional Home authorities had made the appeal for his virtual presence without intimating him. Chatterjee also rubbished the security reasons cited by the prison authorities, the counsels informed the mediapersons.
Following this development, questions were being raised in the political circles that whether the authorities of the two correctional homes deliberately made the virtual presence appeals to the court with the motive of preventing Chatterjee and Mukherjee from interacting with the mediapersons at the court premises during their entry and exit. The coincidence between the timings of the prayer for virtual presence and recent indicative statements made by Chatterjee to the mediapersons on the days of hearing have made such a suspicion stronger.
When Chatterjee was being taken out of the court on the day of his last hearing on August 18, he made an indicative statement that everything will come clear some day or the other and no one will be spared. Soon after that, the authorities of the two correction homes made the respective virtual presence plea to the court.
Chatterjee’s anguish over this issue has caused embarrassment to the state government and Trinamool Congress leaders, who prefer to remain tight-lipped over the issue. However, the CPI-M central committee member, Sujan Chakraborty said that it was clear that the appeal was made to prevent him from speaking to the media.
Explaining the legal possibilities in the matter, senior counsel of the Calcutta High Court, Kaushik Gupta said that in the next hearing on August 31, Chatterjee can inform the court that he was more comfortable with physical presence at hearing than virtual presence. “The court might also seek the argument of the prison authorities in the matter and judging the pros and cons, the court might allow physical presence of Chatterjee or turn down his plea,” Gupta said.