Dasgupta said the bill, named West Bengal Protection of Interests of Depositors in Financial Establishments Bill, empowered the state government to control the organisations. It was passed in 2003 and sent it for presidential assent but in 2009, the central government suggested modifications in the bill.
The bill had provisions for life imprisonment and power for arresting the owner of such institution if the government suspected that the firm was planning some foul play, the former minister said. He urged the current Trinamool Congress (TMC) government to take up the matter with the Centre and ensure that it brought into effect.
Senior TMC leader Mukul Roy said the state government has already asked the Centre to return the bill to make it more strong. "A lot of things are being said about the property (of Saradha Group). The state government after consulting the Union government can bring in an ordinance to take over the property of the group," Roy said. He said whosoever is found guilty in this case would be booked and punished.
Roy claimed the chit fund issue would not have any impact on the TMC's prospects in the panchayat elections which is under litigation. Roy said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee would hold a meeting on Monday to discuss the course of action on the chit fund issue. After the chit fund company crumbled, the state government ordered the arrest of its chairman and managing director Sudipta Sen, who is absconding.
The Congress, meanwhile, sought a CBI inquiry into the entire episode. The party took out a rally in Kolkata demanding strong measures to ensure that the investors' money is not lost.
Hundreds of depositors from various districts gathered in front of Banerjee's residence in Kalighat on Friday demanding return of the money invested with the group. The police have decided to beef up the security at her residence following the show of protest.
Protests were also reported from other districts.
(With PTI inputs)