The Calcutta High Court, late on Monday, 17 May, stayed the order of a CBI court granting bail to four Trinamool Congress affiliates, including two ministers, in connection with the Narada case.
This came after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) moved the Calcutta High Court, stating that their probe was getting impacted, ANI reported. The matter will be heard next on Wednesday.
Earlier on Monday, the CBI had arrested West Bengal ministers Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, and Trinamool Congress MLA Madan Mitra in connection with the case. The agency had also arrested former TMC leader and ex-Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee in the matter.
Following the development, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said that “courts will give the answer” after she observed a six-hour sit-in protest at the agency’s Kolkata office.
Later in the day, a city court had granted interim bail to the arrested.
TMC MP Kalyan Banerjee had also cast aspersions on the West Bengal governor, saying that he had “vindictively done this”. Speaking to news agency ANI, he said that according to the Supreme Court, the police can't unnecessarily detain, arrest any person amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, CBI and police had arrested TMC members.
Arrest Me: Mamata to CBI
Banerjee’s spokesperson, lawyer Anindyo Raut, had earlier told waiting mediapersons, "Didi (Banerjee) will not leave this CBI office until her party colleagues are released or until she is also arrested."
Raut added that Banerjee told the CBI officers they have arrested the four leaders, among them two sitting and two former ministers, without the mandatory notice.
"These arrests are politically motivated and illegal. Suvendu Adhikari and Mukul Roy have been let off though they faced the same charges," Raut quoted the CM as saying, according to IANS.
TMC activists held a protest outside the CBI office at Nizam Palace over the arrests of the party leaders and allegedly pelted stones. The security forces resorted to a baton charge to disperse the protestors.
Earlier in the day, the leaders were detained from their respective residences and taken to the CBI office, following which Banerjee also reached the office of the agency.
Former TMC and now BJP leaders Suvendu Adhikari and Mukul Roy are also involved in the same case. Yet the Lok Sabha Speaker, Om Birla has not permitted for any action to be taken against them.
The development comes days after Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar permitted the CBI to file a charge sheet against the four accused. The CBI approached the Governor instead of the Speaker for arresting the four leaders. The Governor sanctioned the same claiming he had the authority because he had sworn-in the ministers in 2011.
This comes amid a standoff between the Centre and the West Bengal government over post-poll violence in the state.
What Has the CBI Said?
The CBI put out a statement on the arrest of the four ministers, noting it “had registered the instant case on 16.04.2017 on the Orders of Hon’ble Calcutta High Court. It was alleged that then public servants were caught on camera while receiving illegal gratification from the sting operator.”
“After investigation, prosecution sanction was sought against the concerned public servants and the same has been received from the Competent Authority on 07.05.2021. Sanction for one more accused, the then SP was received and he was earlier arrested. Presently, he is on bail,” it added.
What is the Case About?
In 2016, Samuel, editor and managing director of Narada News portal, just before the West Bengal Assembly elections, had broadcast a sting video in which a number of TMC leaders were allegedly seen taking money on camera.
The purported video footage of the sting operation surfaced before the 2016 Assembly polls.
The CBI lodged an FIR in April 2017 following a court order, naming 12 top TMC leaders, including MPs and West Bengal ministers, and an IPS officer.
In its FIR, the agency said suspected public servants, who were shown to have either accepted money in cash given by Samuel, posing as a representative of a Chennai-based company, or asked him to hand over the money to someone else on their behalf, were identified.
An FIR was lodged for alleged criminal conspiracy under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act which deals with bribery and criminal misconduct.
(With inputs from IANS.)
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