Kolkata, May 17: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday arrested West Bengal ministers Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukherjee, MLA Madan Mitra and Sovan Chattopadhyay in the Narada bribery case. These arrests came after Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar gave his assent to the CBI for filing a charge sheet against the four accused.
All of the accused were state ministers when the Narada sting operation showed them taking money in return for favours. These tapes were released before the 2016 state Assembly polls. The Calcutta High Court had then ordered a CBI probe into the sting operation in March 2017.
These arrests come after Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar gave his assent to the CBI for filing a charge sheet against the four accused and prosecution thereby against them. CBI on Monday arrested the four TMC leaders amid protest by the TMC party workers. Just after the arrest, CM Mamata Banerjee sat on a dharna outside the CBI office in Kolkata demanding the release of its leaders. However, Mamata later left her protest and said that the law will take its course in the case. ANI also reported stone-pelting by the huge flocks of TMC supporters outside the CBI office. India News: TMC Supporters Stage Protest Outside CBI Office in Kolkata.
The Narada stings were conducted by Mathew Samuel, founder of the Narada news for over a period of two years in West Bengal. Conducted for news magazine Tehelka in 2014, it was published on a private news website Narada News just months before the 2016 West Bengal Assembly elections. Samuel is also the former managing editor of Tehelka. For this sting operation, Samuel formed a fictitious company named Impex Consultancy Solutions and approached several TMC ministers, MPs and leaders offering them bribe for favours.
In the footage photographed by Samuel and his colleagues, then TMC MP Mukul Roy, Sougata Roy, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Prasun Bannerjee, Suvendu Adhikari, Aparupa Poddar and Sultan Ahmad, and state ministers Madan Mitra, Subrata Mukherjee and Firhad Hakim and Iqbal Ahmed were seen accepting bribes extending unofficial favours for Impex Consultancy Solutions. India News | WB Governor is Bloodsucker, Roaming Around Like Mad Dog: TMC MP.
The state government then started its own probe which booked Samuel under multiple sections of the IPC for forgery, defamation and conspiracy. In August 2016, the High Court put a stay on the state probe observing that the police cannot carry an investigation along with a court-monitored probe.
The Enforcement Directorate is also running a parallel investigation in this case. As the sting operation involved MP's, an ethics committee was also set up by the Lok Sabha to probe if the MP's committed a breach of privilege of the house. On May 9 this year, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar gave his assent to the prosecution of Subrata Mukherjee, Firhad Hakim, Madan Mitra and Sovan Chatterjee.
Trinamool has questioned why Suvendu Adhikari and Mukul Roy, have escaped action. Both were Trinamool MPs at the time, but have since joined the BJP. The TMC also hit out at Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, saying that he was not authorised to sanction the arrest of Trinamool MLAs. But the governor said that he has the right to clear their prosecution in this case as he had sworn them in as ministers when the crime was committed. However, the ministers and two other leaders were granted bail later in the day.