After almost a year, the Calcutta High Court on Friday ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI) to investigate the Narada sting operation and submit the preliminary investigation report within 72 hours.
However, after the verdict, the West Bengal government has decided to move Supreme Court against the order passed by the Calcutta High Court soon.
The division bench of Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre and Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty gave its verdict on Friday and asked CBI to take all the documents from the Calcutta High Court within 24 hours. The Court also directed that senior IPS officer SMH Mirza, who was purportedly seen accepting a bribe, be suspended and directed the state government to initiate disciplinary action against him.
The HC observed that the video footage that they had received was genuine and that it was unfortunate to see eminent and influential people of the society including ministers indulging in corrupt practices.
The team from the anti-corruption branch of CBI is expected to reach Kolkata by Friday evening or Monday morning and the Court has directed that the CBI can lodge an FIR against anyone, if they find it necessary, over the course of the investigation.
The Court also observed that the state police have become a “puppet in the hands of the Trinamool government” and that this incident has shaken the faith the people had in the government.
Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee called this order a political move of the BJP and said, “West Bengal BJP president said a month back that the CBI will be more pro-active in investigating the Narada scam after the results of UP election. This verdict has been kept in reserve and now the CBI has been given the charge of conducting the inquiry. How do you explain it? We will fight it out legally and politically.”
Banerjee also claimed when they started an inquiry into the Narada sting operation the Calcutta High Court had stopped it within 24 hours.
Banerjee countered that the Narada incident became an issue in the 2016 Assembly elections, but Trinamool still won the polls and three of the ministers Sovan Chatterjee, Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, who were seen purportedly taking bribes on video, have won the election. “So one can see that the people's faith in us remains intact,” said Banerjee.
She also said, “At every election donations are given and here it is the question of only Rs 1-2 lakh. We have filed all accounts with the Election Commission of India (ECI) and the Income Tax department during the election – we maintain total transparency. But what happened during the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections? How many crores of rupees were spent? Let there be an investigation.We want to know. The people want to know.”
The Calcutta HC's verdict has been welcomed by the Opposition who claimed that they have faith in the judiciary and that now the truth and justice would finally prevail.
CPI(M) leader Surjya Kanta Mishra said, “We welcome the Calcutta High Court’s verdict, but we feel that there seems to be a secret understanding between the Trinamool and BJP as till now the Ethics Committee of Parliament, before which the Narada issue has been sent, has not met in the last 11 months. So this is quite unnerving.”
Leader of the Opposition Abdul Mannan also welcomed the verdict, along with state BJP president Dilip Ghosh who said: “We have full faith in the judiciary and now the truth and justice will prevail.”
The Narada sting operation was conducted by Matthew Samuel in 2016 and it was found that Subrata Mukherjee, Firhad Hakim, Madan Mitra, Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee, MLA Iqbal Ahmed senior IPS officer SMH Mirza, AITC MPs Saugata Roy, Suvendu Adhikari, Sultan Ahmed, Aparupa Poddar, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar and Prasun Banerjee had all allegedly accepted bribes. All of this was caught on video.
Samuel echoed the same sentiments as Opposition leaders and said, “I welcome the Calcutta High Court's verdict. I have faith in the judiciary.”
Edited by Jhinuk Sen