Kolkata: The new West Bengal Protection of Interest of Depositors in Financial Establishments Bill, 2013 was passed in the state Assembly on Thursday, after withdrawing the earlier one following objections from the Centre.
The Bill was moved in the House by the state Finance Minister Amit Mitra incorporating some clauses as suggested by the union Finance Ministry.
The Ministry had raised objections and had sought clarifications from the Trinamool Congress-led state government on the earlier Bill.
Clarifications were sought on widening the powers of special designated courts dealing with cases related to chit funds and that no court could grant anticipatory bail.
The new Bill was passed incorporating fresh provisions like attachment of property in case of default in payment of deposit and transfer of property.
Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Surjya Kanta Mishra strongly criticised the fresh Bill describing it as an equally non-transparent one and said the withdrawal of the previous Bill was unconstitutional.
Mishra feared the new Bill would also fail to get a Presidential assent and said the move was an attempt by the government to protect the culprits involved in the ponzi scam.
He also demanded a CBI probe under the supervision of the Supreme Court and raised questions on giving compensation from the public exchequer.
Mitra, however, said the Justice Shyamal Kumar Sen Commission was set up following directives of the Calcutta High Court.
A similar Bill, introduced by the previous Left Front government in 2003, did not get a Presidential nod.
The Left Front government did not withdraw the Bill when it was returned in 2006, but chose to introduce another legislation on the similar subject in 2008, which was subsequently passed in the Assembly.
The TMC government decided to repeal the Bill passed by the LF government, which had not received the President`s nod.
On April 30, a new Bill titled the West Bengal Protection of Interest of Depositors in Financial Establishments Bill, 2013, was passed in a two-day special session of the Assembly, having provisions for retrospective effect, search and seizure, enhanced penalties, establishment of special courts, confiscation of property.
The Bill, which was passed today, is more serious and stringent in nature and provides for confiscation of property of the fraudulent financial establishments. It also empowers investigating agencies to enter those establishments and inspect documents, Mitra said while tabling the Bill.
The scam-ridden Saradha group, which went bust in April this year leaving scores of aggrieved depositors, is facing a multi-agency probe for illegally raising deposits from investors across West Bengal and some other states.
The group`s chairman Sudipto Sen was arrested along with two other company officials from Sonmarg in Kashmir Valley on April 23 last.