Partha Chatterjee, a minister in Mamata Banerjee’s West Bengali administration, was flown to Bhubaneshwar, the capital of Odisha, for a medical examination last night and was returned to Kolkata this morning for interrogation by the Enforcement Directorate.
However, the physicians at AIIMS Bhubaneshwar approved Mr. Chatterjee, whose assistant Arpita Mukherjee’s residence was where a room full of cash valued at 20 crores was discovered last week having chronic health difficulties without the need for hospitalization.
Mr. Chatterjee visited the state-run SSKM Hospital in Kolkata for a health checkup and other tests after being detained on Saturday last week. The investigators accused the Bengal minister of attempting to use his sickness as an excuse to avoid interrogation during a bail hearing. Even the austere Calcutta High Court ruled that Mr. Chatterjee could easily “evade inquiry” given his “immense authority and position.”
The Enforcement Directorate is accountable for the air ambulance and associated costs, according to Mr. Chatterjee’s attorney, who also claimed that SSKM Hospital would have provided the same medical report as AIIMS Bhubaneswar.
The All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, or AIIMS, in Bhubaneswar, when the minister could have had the same care in Kolkata, was the subject of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s assault on the BJP yesterday.
To leverage the center’s power, Ms. Banerjee said the investigation agency intended to relocate the minister to Bhubaneswar. She criticized the action, saying, “I felt humiliated. For treatment, they said they had to transport him to Odisha. One of the greatest hospitals in the nation is SSKM Hospital. We have a huge number of hospitals and medical schools. Good private hospitals are available as well. Why do you need to transport him to a hospital with ties to the federal government? ESI Hospital: Why? What makes Command Hospital? What is the purpose? They claim they must transport him to Odisha’s AIIMS. Is this not a slight to the Bengali people? How do you feel? Are all the states thieves and the center innocent? The states are the reason you are there.”
Starting today, Mr. Chatterjee will be questioned by the Enforcement Directorate at its headquarters in Kolkata. Every 48 hours, while the minister and his assistant, Ms. Mukherjee, are in detention, the high court has ordered the investigators to assess their health.
The court ruled that Ms. Mukherjee cannot be questioned between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. and that a female officer must always be present when she is being questioned: “with careful respect to decency.”
The minister and his assistant may remain in the custody of the central investigation agency until August 3.
After hearing on Monday morning that Mr. Chatterjee had not returned any of his calls to her after his incarceration, Ms. Banerjee addressed the issue.
It was seen as the Chief Minister’s effort to set herself apart from the minister, one of her closest advisers who is now defending herself against corruption charges.
When Mr. Chatterjee was the Bengal Education Minister, the alleged fraud occurred. Before her identity came to light during the inquiry into the School Service Commission, or SSC fraud, Arpita Mukherjee, a bit-part performer, served as the face of Mr. Chatterjee’s Durga Puja committee’s advertising ads in 2019 and 2020.