The Central Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday prayed before the Calcutta High Court that it cancel the proceedings held before the special CBI court following the arrest of two West Bengal ministers, an MLA and a former city mayor in the Narada sting tape case. Seeking transfer of the Narada sting tape case from the lower court to the high court, the investigating agency claimed before a five-judge bench that pressure was created on that court which granted bail to the four accused.
Appearing for the CBI, Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta said that the state chief minister sat on a dharna at the agency's office on May 17 following the arrests and a mob of thousands of people gheraoed the office complex at Nizam Palace here. Mehta urged the court to declare the entire proceedings before the special CBI court on that day as bad in law on account of that pressure and cancel the proceedings.
The Solicitor General submitted that central and state ministers have been arrested on earlier occasions also, but never has such a situation emerged anywhere else. He said that justice should not only be done but should also be seen to be done.
The five-judge bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and justices I P Mukerji, Harish Tandon, Soumen Sen and Arijit Banerjee, adjourned hearing in the matter till Wednesday. The five-judge bench granted interim bail on May 28 to ministers Subrata Mukherjee and Firhad Hakim, Trinamool Congress MLA Madan Mitra and former Kolkata mayor Sovan Chatterjee, who were arrested on May 17 by the CBI, which is investigating the Narada sting tape case on a 2017 order of the high court.
The special CBI court had granted them bail on that day itself, but the order was stayed by the high court, 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.
The Narada sting operation was conducted by journalist Mathew Samuel of Narada News, a web portal, 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. At that time, the four arrested politicians were ministers in the Mamata Banerjee government.
The sting operation was made public ahead of the 2016 assembly elections in West Bengal.