The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted bail to Bengali journalist Suman Chattopadhyay who was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in December 2018 for his alleged involvement in a ponzi scam.
A three-judge bench headed by justice Rohinton Nariman noted that Chattopadhyay is admitted to the Apollo Hospital in Bhubaneswar for serious heart trouble and lung infection and may, therefore, be more prone to Covid-19 infection than other prisoners.
“We think this (is) one good reason for releasing the petitioner on bail. The petitioner be released on bail to the satisfaction of the trial Court immediately”, the bench comprising justices Navin Sinha and Indira Banerjee ruled.
“After being in incarceration for over a year and a half, justice has finally been meted out to Chattopadhyay. The Supreme Court has long been a guardian of personal liberties of citizens, and today’s order is a reflection of that. This may be an important step in his otherwise longer drawn battle”, Chattopadhyay’s lawyer, Sahil Tagotra told HT.
Chattopadhyay has served as the editor of Ananda Bazaar Patrika and Ei Shomoy, a Bengali daily. He had then started his own newspaper, Ek Din, and raised money from I-Core services which had come up using chit funds.
I-Core group came under scanner after one Ajay Kumar Sahoo filed a complaint with the Bhubaneswar police that after maturity of his deposit with I-Core, the amount was not returned to him. Chattopadhyay and two promoters of I-Core were later arrested by CBI in the matter.
While the promoters of I-Core were subsequently released on bail, Chattopadhyay’s bail plea was rejected earlier on several occasions both by the sessions court and the high court.
The latest was on June 4 when the high court rejected the plea though Chattopadhyay had highlighted his deteriorating health coupled with the fact that he has been in jail for 18 months.
Chattopadhyay submitted before the Supreme Court that the trial has not yet commenced in the case and not even a single question was put to him by CBI in the last 18 months.
“Only three accused were arrested in the present case of which two main accused have already been granted bail by the high court. There has not been a single allegation against the petitioner that he may have attempted to influence the course of investigation, tamper with evidence or intimidate any witness”, the petition stated.