Narada case: CBI found nothing against Mukul Roy, Poddar; sought sanction to prosecute Suvendu Adhikari, 3 others in 2019

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New Delhi, May 18 (PTI) The CBI has found nothing 'so far' against Mukul Roy, who switched from the Trinamool Congress to the BJP, and Lok Sabha TMC member Aparupa Poddar in the 2014 Narada sting tape case, while its application seeking sanction to prosecute four others including Suvendu Adhikari was pending with the Lok Sabha Speaker for over two years, officials said on Tuesday.

However, they added that the investigation is still open and no clean chit has been given to anyone.

The officials said the CBI had written to the Lok Sabha Speaker on April 6, 2019 for sanction to prosecute Suvendu Adhikari, Sougata Roy, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar and Prasun Banerjee as all of them were members of the lower house when the alleged incident occurred.

Adhikari, once a close confidant of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, joined the BJP in December 2020 and stole a narrow victory over Banerjee in his pocket borough Nandigram. He is the leader of opposition in the state assembly.

The case pertains to a purported sting operation conducted by Mathew Samuel of Narada TV news channel in 2014 wherein people resembling TMC ministers, MPs and MLAs were allegedly seen receiving 'illegal gratification' from representatives of a fictitious company in exchange for favours, the CBI has alleged.

The infamous Narada scam tapes, which were clandestinely shot in 2014, were leaked ahead of 2016 assembly polls in West Bengal. However, it had no bearing on the poll results as Mamata Banerjee returned to power.

The CBI started an investigation into the case on the direction of Calcutta High Court in April 2017.

The agency had on Monday arrested and charge-sheeted West Bengal ministers Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukherjee, TMC MLA Madan Mitra, and former TMC leader and erstwhile Mayor of Kolkata Sovan Chatterjee, after the governor gave the sanction to prosecute them on May 7.

IPS officer SMH Meerza, who is out on bail, was also among those charge-sheeted.

Among the 13 accused named by the CBI in its FIR, the officials said sanction for prosecution was not sought for Roy, who joined the BJP in November 2017, and Poddar, who is in TMC and is an MP from Arambagh, West Bengal.

The case against the then TMC MP Sultan Ahmed was abated and is likely to figure in column two of the charge sheet as he died in September 2017.

The officials said that the CBI could not find corroborative evidence 'so far' to prosecute Roy and Poddar and hence sanction was not sought against them.

The CBI application seeking sanction to prosecute the then TMC MPs, purportedly caught in the sting tapes receiving money from the operator in 2014, remains pending with the Lok Sabha Speaker office for over two years, officials said.

Firhad Hakim, the TMC minister arrested by the CBI, took to Twitter on Monday evening to allege that the leaders 'who bent down to their pressure tactics and joined BJP are spared from the arrest today and harassment by CBI.' The TMC has alleged that the arrests were political vendetta by the BJP after its loss in the assembly election.

The four senior politicians arrested by the CBI were ministers in the state cabinet in 2014 when the sting operation was conducted by the Narada news channel.

The CBI had sought sanction for the four ministers from West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar who gave his nod under Article 164 of the Constitution on May 7 this year. Union Home Ministry had cleared the prosecution of Meerza after which the agency filed the charge sheet against the five.

There was no word on the role of the 13th accused Iqbal Ahmed, the then TMC MLA. PTI ABS SKL RT RT