Kolkata: Former West Bengal minister and Trinamool Congress leader Madan Mitra was on Friday granted bail by a court here, over 21 months after his arrest in the multi-crore rupee Saradha chit fund scam.
Durga Puja arrived early for Mitra`s family and supporters as people in large numbers celebrated his bail, while the ruling Trinamool Congress hailed the court`s verdict.
Mitra was behind bars since his arrest on December 12, 2014, except for a brief period in October 2015, when he was granted bail by a lower court. The relief was subsequently cancelled by the Calcutta High Court.
On Friday, the court of Chief judicial Magistrate, Alipore, granted him bail on twin bonds of Rs 15 lakh each.
Indicted of cheating, conspiracy and criminal breach of trust, the former state Transport and Sports Minister was one of the most high-profile arrests in the Saradha scam after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) took over the probe.
Describing Mitra as an "influential personality", the prosecution had been opposing his bail, and the judiciary, including the Calcutta High Court, had denied him the relief on previous occasions.
Incidentally, Mitra had stepped down as a minister on November 19 last year, hours before the Calcutta High Court eventually cancelled his bail granted by a lower court.
"He has been in custody for over 600 days but the CBI has not been able to submit anything against him. The CBI has filed several supplementary charge sheets but there was nothing against Mitra. The court was pleased to grant him bail on two bonds of Rs 15 lakh each," said Mitra`s counsel.
Welcoming the move, Trinamool secretary general Partha Chatterjee hit out at the CBI.
"Even a murder accused gets bail within a matter of days, while Mitra had to remain in custody for 629 days. On behalf of (Chief Minister) Mamata Banerjee and the entire party we welcome the court`s verdict and wish Mitra and his family a very healthy life and congratulate his family.
"Mitra has always been with the people and the party and will continue to do so," said Chatterjee.