Narada sting case: SC asks WB CM, Law Minister over alleged role during TMC leaders' arrest
The Supreme Court on Friday asked the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Law Minister Moloy Ghatak and the State government to approach the Calcutta High Court with their application to take their affidavits on record over allegations about their role on the day of four TMC leaders' arrest in Narada sting tape case.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday asked the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Law Minister Moloy Ghatak and the State government to approach the Calcutta High Court with their application to take their affidavits on record over allegations about their role on the day of four TMC leaders' arrest in Narada sting tape case.
A Bench of Justice Vineet Saran and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari asked them to file their application by June 28 in the Calcutta High Court in support to bring on record the counter affidavits filed by them on June 7 and 9.
The top court disposed of the appeals filed by the West Bengal government, Chief Minister and Law Minister against the Calcutta High Court's refusal to immediately consider their affidavits countering allegations about their role on the day of the arrest of four TMC leaders on May 17 by the CBI in the Narada sting tape case.
The court asked them to file an application stating the reasons for not filing these affidavits earlier and also requested the High Court to first decide the application of the Chief Minister, Law Minister and State and thereafter High Court shall proceed with the matter and decide further course of action.
Banerjee, Ghatak and West Bengal government were asked by the apex court to file the applications by June 28, after serving advance copies to the CBI on June 27. The CBI has been given the liberty to file a reply.
It further requested the High Court to decide first the applications seeking acceptance of affidavits on the next scheduled hearing date, June 29.
"... a suggestion was made by this court that the matter could be remanded to the High Court to decide afresh on the basis of the reasons given in the applications filed by the petitioners within the specified time. The counsel for the parties have graciously agreed to the suggestion of this court," the Bench stated in its order while sending the matter back to the High Court.
Senior advocates Rakesh Dwivedi and Vikas Singh, appearing for the Chief Minister, Law Minister and the State government, said the affidavits were "essential" to the case and it provides the truth on the events of May 17, the day of the arrest.
A five-judge Bench of the Calcutta High Court is hearing the Narada case. On June 9, the court hearing CBI's application for transfer of the Narada sting tape case from the special CBI court to the High Court had said it will decide later on considering the affidavits by the Banerjee, Ghatak and State on their respective roles on the day of the arrest of four leaders in connection with the case.
Dwivedi in the High Court had countered CBI's claims that Ghatak was present in the courtroom with a mob when the four TMC leaders were produced after their arrest. The senior advocate had said the Minister was in an official meeting at the time and even the CBI officials were not present at the spot as the hearing was held virtually.
It has been alleged that the state ruling party leaders played a key role in stopping CBI from performing its legal duty after arresting four leaders on May 17 in the case.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had urged the High Court that the affidavits cannot be accepted on the ground of delay as they were filed after the completion of his arguments.
The CBI had made the Chief Minister and the Law Minister parties in its transfer plea there. The CBI had claimed that while the Chief Minister had sat on a dharna at the CBI office in Kolkata soon after the arrest of the four accused, Ghatak had been present at the Banshall Court premises during the virtual hearing of the case before the special CBI court there on May 17.
Ministers Subrata Mukherjee and Firhad Hakim, Trinamool Congress MLA Madan Mitra and former mayor of Kolkata Sovan Chatterjee were arrested by the CBI which is investigating the Narada sting tape case on a 2017 order of the High Court.
On May 17 itself, the Special CBI court had granted them bail, however, the High Court had stayed the order, which remanded them to judicial custody. They had been placed under house arrest on May 21 by the High Court, modifying its earlier order of stay on the bail. Journalist Mathew Samuel of Narada News, a web portal, had conducted a Narada sting operation in 2014 wherein some people resembling TMC ministers, MPs and MLAs were seen receiving money from representatives of a fictitious company in lieu of favours.
The four arrested politicians were ministers in the Mamata Banerjee government at that time. Ahead of the 2016 Assembly elections in West Bengal, the sting operation was made public. (ANI)