Kolkata: Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress leader Shajahan Sheikh on Monday prayed for anticipatory bail through his lawyer before a special CBI court here over summons to him by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with an alleged ration distribution scam in West Bengal.
Sheikh, who has not been seen in public since a mob attack on ED officials when they went to search his premises at Sandeshkhali in North 24 Parganas district on January 5, claimed that he is not an accused in the agency's complaint in the money laundering case, in which state minister Jyoti Priya Mallick was arrested by the ED.
Special CBI court Judge Prasanta Mukhopadhyay fixed February 23 for the next hearing of Sheikh's anticipatory bail prayer, when the ED's counsel will make his submissions opposing the plea.
Deputy Solicitor General Dhiraj Trivedi, representing the ED, refused a request by Sheikh's counsel to give an undertaking on behalf of the agency that no further summon will be issued against Sheikh till the next date of hearing.
The ED has so far sent three summons to Sheikh, but he has not appeared at its office at the CGO complex in Salt Lake here.
Stating before the court that Sheikh's counsel Sabyasachi Banerjee relied on several earlier judgements of various courts to place his case and also supplied to his office a copy of a supplementary affidavit on Sunday evening only, Trivedi sought time to take instructions from the agency for making submissions.
Banerjee submitted that Sheikh is ready to appear before the ED officers responding to their summons if the court grants him protection, claiming that he is not a complaint accused.
The ED, in its written opposition to the anticipatory bail prayer, stated that Sheikh, a ruling TMC leader, is an influential person.
They stated that ED officials were attacked, in which three of them were injured and their belongings looted, by a mob and had to leave Sandeshkhali without being able to search the premises of Sheikh on January 5.
The ED officials later held a search operation at Sheikh's premises on January 24.
A division bench presided by Chief Justice T S Sivagnanam of the Calcutta High Court had on February 7 stayed a single bench order that directed the formation of a joint special investigation team of the CBI and the West Bengal Police.
The division bench had also restrained West Bengal police from proceeding with the investigation in the cases, which have been registered by them in connection with the mob attack on the ED officials.
The ED moved the division bench praying that only the CBI conduct the investigation and that the state police be kept away from it.