The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday reserved judgment on a bail prayer by Trinamool Congress leader Anubrata Mondal, who was arrested by the CBI in connection with an alleged case of cattle smuggling.

Mondal's Counsel Kapil Sibal claimed that he has been in custody for more than four months, while one of the main accused in the case, BSF officer Satish Kumar, was granted bail after 33 days.

CBI Counsel DP Singh opposed the bail prayer submitting that Mondal stands on a different footing than Kumar in his ability to derail the investigation, claiming that he may try to influence witnesses if enlarged at this stage.

Hearing all the parties in the matter, the division bench presided over by Justice Joymalya Bagchi
reserved judgment on the bail prayer.

Submitting before the bench, also comprising Justice A K Gupta, that all documents about the case have not been supplied to his client, Sibal claimed that no evidence of facilitation of cattle smuggling by Mondal has been found.

Praying for his bail, he claimed that his client, the Birbhum district of the Trinamool Congress, has been in custody for 145 days.

Stating that more witnesses are to be examined, CBI counsel Singh alleged that Mondal, using his political clout, was the main facilitator in smooth movement of cattle in Birbhum district for accused Enamul Haque of smuggling them to Bangladesh.

It was alleged that Mondal's personal security officer Sehgal Hossain, who is also under arrest by the CBI, was the conduit through whom huge amounts of money used to change hands.

Seeking to establish Mondal's clout, Singh submitted that the names of investigating officers of the cattle smuggling case were included in an FIR registered at Rampurhat police station in Birbhum district on a complaint by the widow of Bogtui massacre main accused Lalan Sheikh, who died in CBI custody.

On the claim by the state counsel that the names were included since the CBI officers investigating the cattle smuggling case stayed in the same barrack as those probing the Bogtui massacre, in which 10 people were burnt to death in March 2022, in retaliation to the murder of a TMC vice-chief of a panchayat, the court said that drawing such conclusion was "very disturbing."

Singh also said that on the basis of an FIR lodged by a TMC worker that Mondal attempted to murder him a year ago, the leader was arrested within a day of the complaint being registered and he was sent to police remand by a local court for seven days.

The CBI counsel said that this development surprisingly took place immediately after a Delhi court ordered issuance of production warrant against Mondal in an Enforcement Directorate (ED) case relating to a money laundering case lodged by the agency in the national capital.

Observing that the investigating officer had shown unusual promptness in the case, Justice Bagchi said that he had, however, not gone into a very pertinent question as to whether there was any medical report to corroborate the allegation of an attempt to murder that allegedly took place long back.

The court said that the insinuation that the state machinery is being misused is very serious in nature.

Mondal was granted bail by the Dubrajpur court on production before it following the completion of the week-long police custody.

With PTI Inputs