New Delhi: In a relief to former IPS officer Bharati Ghosh, who recently joined BJP in West Bengal, the Supreme Court on Tuesday granted her protection from arrest in all the cases registered against her.
Ghosh, once considered close to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, claimed that the police has registered 10 FIRs against her so far including a case of alleged extortion and illegal exchange of banned notes for gold.
A bench of Justices A K Sikri, S Abdul Nazeer and M R Shah said that no coercive action be taken against her till further orders and listed the matter for hearing after three weeks.
Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, appearing for Ghosh, said the apex court had earlier granted her protection from arrest in seven cases registered against her and similar relief should be granted in the three fresh cases which have been filed.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for West Bengal, opposed the plea for relief and said that there are concrete evidence against Ghosh by which it can be established what she was doing.
He said the investigation is going on and the court should not stay the arrest in the fresh cases.
Sibal submitted a transcript of taped conversation to the bench, saying it shows the complicity of Ghosh and her personal security officer in the crime.
After perusal, the bench said that it is granting protection from arrest in all the cases. It listed the matter for further hearing after three weeks.
After the registration of fresh cases, Ghosh had moved the apex court seeking protection from arrest, saying the West Bengal government has been falsely implicating her.
On October 1 last year, the court had granted her protection from arrest in a case of alleged extortion and illegal exchange of banned notes for gold.
In a previous hearing, counsel appearing for Ghosh had said that seven FIRs have been lodged against her in an incident which dates back to 2016 in which allegedly gold was taken for currency.
He had said that police has been acting against her at different places and they should be restrained from taking any coercive action.
The West Bengal government had opposed the plea and said she wants a stay of arrest on a writ petition, which cannot be done.
It claimed that Ghosh and her PSO have acted together in various cases.
On February 4, Ghosh had joined the BJP in the presence of Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and senior party leader Kailash Vijayvargiya alleging that "thugocracy" has replaced democracy in the West Bengal.
Ghosh, who was the West Midnapore Superintendent of Police for more than six years, was transferred as commandant of the third battalion of the state armed police on December 26, 2017. She resigned from service two days later.
She was once considered close to Banerjee and was also awarded a service medal on August 15, 2014.
Ghosh was transferred twice, once by the Election Commission before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and the second time by the state itself before the 2016 Assembly elections.
She was, however, reinstated as West Midnapore SP as soon as the elections got over on both occasions.
An arrest warrant was issued against Ghosh in February 2018 in connection with an extortion case registered at Daspur police station in West Midnapore district, following her resignation.
The CID, probing cases relating to alleged extortion and misconduct against Ghosh, had also conducted raids at various properties, including a house in Kolkata that belongs to her husband M A V Raju.
A few police officers of inspector and sub-inspector ranks have been arrested by the CID in connection with the probe.