Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday granted interim bail to Saradha scam-accused Rajya Sabha lawmaker Kunal Ghosh, who was suspended by Trinamool Congress for alleged anti-party activities, after more than two years in custody following his arrest by CBI.
A division bench comprising Justice Ashim Kumar Roy and Justice M M Banerjee granted bail till November 11 to Ghosh, who headed the Saradha Group’s media business, on a bail bond of Rs. 2 lakh and two sureties of Rs. one lakh each.
On being released, Ghosh should not leave the jurisdiction of Narkeldanga police station in the metropolis except for attending court proceedings or meeting the investigating officers, the court directed.
It further directed Ghosh to meet the investigating officer once a week and if necessary, CBI shall have liberty to call him to its office for the purpose of investigation.
The matter would be heard again on November 2.
The court noted that Ghosh’s nonagenarian mother was suffering from cancer and is terminally-ill.
It also noted that the charges against Ghosh, who will be tried before a metropolitan magistrate court, could invite a maximum punishment of three years, while he had been in custody for over two years.
Ghosh has been in CBI custody for 25 months in connection with a clubbed case involving nine cases in one of which he is an accused, according to the submissions of the CBI counsel.
However, Ghosh’s counsel claimed that he had been in custody for over two years and ten months counting his total days in custody since his arrest by West Bengal Police in connection with other related cases of Saradha scam.
He has been charged of criminal breach of trust by merchant or agent, criminal breach of trust, cheating and conspiracy, besides relevant sections of the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Act, 1978.
Ghosh, a former editor of a vernacular daily, had become the CEO of Saradha Media, an arm of the Saradha Group owned by Sudipta Sen.
Ghosh was arrested on November 23, 2013 by Bidhannagar Police after the Saradha scam broke out in April that year. Saradha Group chief and main accused Sudipta Sen was arrested, along with his close associate Debjani Mukherjee, from Sonmarg in Kashmir in April, 2013.
Ghosh was suspended by the Trinamool Congress in September, 2013, which had given him the Rajya Sabha ticket, for anti-party activities after he had started making allegations of involvement of some party leaders in the scam.
He was elected to the Rajya Sabha in April, 2012.
Ghosh had, during personal submissions in the metropolitan court, on many occasions alleged that some top Trinamool Congress leaders were beneficiaries of the scam and that he was being made a scapegoat.