Bengal school recruitment case: Questions galore over fate of seized Rs 2000 notes

Insight Online News

Kolkata, July 22 : Exactly one year back on this day of July 22, the Enforcement Directorate (ED)’s major crackdown in the West Bengal school recruitment case started with the raid and search operations at the residence of former state education minister and Trinamool Congress secretary general Partha Chatterjee.

After hours of marathon raids and questioning, Chatterjee was finally arrested on the morning of July 2, which followed the arrest of his close associate Arpita Mukherjee.

Now after a year of its first major operation, questions galore on the fate of Rs 49.80 crore seized mainly in Rs 2,000 notes in addition to gold worth Rs 5.08 crore seized by the ED sleuths from the two residences of Mukherjee.

While there is not much confusion over the fate of gold seized, misperceptions continue over the fate of currencies seized in Rs 2,000 denominations, considering that the high-value currencies will become obsolete after September 30 this year as per the directive of the Reserve Bank of India.

Legal experts have some answers on this point. According to a senior counsel of the Calcutta High Court Kaushik Gupta, till the time the trial process is completed in the matter, the cash and gold seized will be in ED’s custody and preserved at the volt of any bank.

“If the trial process comes to the conclusion that the cash and gold were illegally acquired wealth, then the conclusion is simple where the cash and gold will go to the exchequer of the Union government, which might be utilized for meeting government expenses,” Gupta explained.

However, according to him, the complications will arrive in case of a remote possibility where Chatterjee or Mukherjee’s counsels are able to establish that the cash and gold seized are legally earned assets of their clients.

“In that case the government will have to return the seized assets to the individual or individuals who can establish that those assets were fruits of their legal earnings. Now since the Rs 2,000 notes will become obsolete after September 30, 2023, in that case the government will have to return the money in the same amount as seized in Rs 2,000- denominations.

“In case of seizure of perishable commodities, which cannot be preserved for an indefinite period, the state puts them on auction and reserves the proceeds out of it, so that it can be returned to the original owners depending on the legal course. In this case Rs 2,000 denomination notes should be considered as equivalent to perishable commodities considering their limited life-span,” Gupta explained.

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