Bengal assembly passes bill to protect depositors’ interest

Kolkata, April 30 (IANS) A bill to protect interests of depositors was passed by the West Bengal assembly here Tuesday, but the opposition questioned its validity and said it would go the same way as the Singur bill on land acquisition which has been declared unconstitutional by the judiciary.

The opposition members also raised questions on whether the West Bengal Protection of Interest of Depositors in Financial Establishments Bill, 2013, would equip the state with more muscle power to book those involved in the Saradha Group chit fund scam.

Claiming that some provisions in the bill were not in tune with the constitution, legislators of the Left Front and the Congress moved amendments but the state government turned these down. Following this, the legislation was carried through with voice vote. Protesting against the rejection of their amendments, the Congress members staged a walk-out.

Participating in the discussions, the opposition members said the bill in its present form would go the same way as the Singur bill, which is now in the Supreme Court after the Calcutta High Court declared it unconstitutional and void.

Leader of Opposition in the assembly Surya Kanta Mishra of the CPI-M said the legislation has led to questions on whether the lakhs of people who parked their funds in the companies would get justice. He expressed fears that it would provide an escape route to those duping the people.

The opposition members also deliberated on alleged links between ruling Trinamool Congress leaders and the company and appealed to the state government to let the Central Bureau of Investigation conduct the probe.

While Mishra claimed that the legislation was similar to the one passed by the erstwhile Left Front government in 2009 and the two new clauses were redundant, Finance Minister Amit Mitra called it a “completely new Bill with a new spirit”.

Mitra said it has armed the state agencies to go into premises, inspect and carry out searches and seizure of documents and freeze, confiscate and dispose of property.

In the morning session, the house withdrew an act passed by the Left Front regime in 2009.

The Left members sought a division, which the government won.

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