Narada scam: CBI withdraws plea in SC against Calcutta HC granting house arrest of TMC leaders

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Representative image
Representative image

New Delhi [India], May 25 (ANI): The CBI on Tuesday withdrew its appeal before the Supreme Court against a Calcutta High Court order in which four senior Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders including State ministers, were granted the benefit of house arrest instead of being lodged in jail under judicial custody after their arrest in connection with the Narada scam.

A Bench of Justice Vineet Saran and Justice BR Gavai of the apex court said all contentions to be raised before the High Court. The Bench gave liberty to the parties to raise all contentions before the five-judge bench of Calcutta High Court which is seized of the challenge to bail granted to four TMC leaders in the Narada scam.

It also did not consider the CBI's argument that the atmosphere in Kolkata due to the conduct of TMC ministers could have had a bearing on the grant of bail by a special CBI court on May 17.

"We are not passing anything on merits. Solicitor General has accepted that the issues are being looked into by a five-judge bench of Calcutta High Court. Thus, permission is sought to withdraw the plea and raise all such issues before the High Court. All other contentions remain open. All other parties shall also have liberty to raise such contentions before the High Court. It is clarified that we are not passing any order on merits," the top court ordered.

The Bench observed said that special benches in High Court are usually constituted to protect liberty unlike in this case wherein the opposite happened.

"Special bench is assigned to protect liberty. This is for the first time that a special bench was assigned to take away the liberty," the Bench remarked.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the CBI, contended that the conduct of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and other top leaders of TMC after the arrest of the accused had vitiated the atmosphere, and the order of special CBI court granted bail could not be sustained on that ground.

The Bench, however, disagreed with the Solicitor General stating that those incidents involving actions of TMC ministers have to be seen separately and cannot influence the grant of bail to the accused.

Justice Gavai said, "We also have been tried to be pressurized. I was hearing an anticipatory bail plea in Aurangabad in 2013 and Mahila morcha people came inside the court. Police asked me not to pass orders but I passed orders in an open courtroom."

On May 17, the CBI arrested four leaders Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, Madan Mitra and Sovan Chatterjee. A special CBI court had granted them interim bail that evening but the High Court stayed the order the very same day.

The High Court had stayed the Special CBI court order after the CBI sought a transfer of the case from the Court dealing with the case, citing a threat to the probe agency on the ground that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and TMC ministers were sat on dharna outside the CBI's office at Nizam palace causing obstruction to justice and creating an atmosphere of fear.

High Court's Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Arijit Banerjee disagreed on the aspect of the grant of interim bail to the four accused and referred the matter to a larger Bench and as an interim measure, directed that the four TMC leaders be placed under house arrest.

The case is related to a sting operation, commonly known as Narada Sting Operation, in which these public servants were caught on camera while receiving illegal gratification from the Sting Operator. (ANI)