Kolkata: In a major setback for West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed a chargesheet against several senior Trinamool Congress leaders in the Narada sting case.
"We have filed chargesheet against these people under Section 120 B of IPC (criminal conspiracy), Section 13 (2), 13 (1D) and Section 7 of Prevention of Corruption Act. We will soon summon them for questioning,” a source in CBI told News18.
He said, “Preliminary inquiry revealed that the Trinamool leaders accepted money, misusing their official position. Those named in the chargesheet are Firhad Hakim, Mukul Rai, Saugata Roy, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Sultan Ahmed, Subrata Mukherjee, Subhendu Adhikari, Sovan Chatterjee, Aparupa Poddar, Madan Mitra, Iqbal Ahmed, Prasun Banerjee and H.M.S. Mirza."
An IPS officer, who allegedly accepted cash for bribes on behalf of a top TMC leader, is also indicted.
The accused have been slapped with sections 7 and 13 of The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 which covers “Public servant taking gratification other than legal remuneration in respect of an official act” and “Criminal misconduct by a public servant”, respectively. Alongside these two sections, the suspects have also been slapped with section 120 (B) in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which spells out punishment for criminal conspiracy.
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The FIR was filed in Delhi and, according to sources in the agency, a Special Investigation Team with officers of the anti-corruption unit at CBI headquarters is being formed to take charge of the investigations.
Responding to the FIR, Trinamool Congress Supremo Mamata Banerjee said, “There’s nothing to worry. Merely lodging an FIR does not prove guilt. This is a political game and we will combat this politically.”
Reacting to the CBI chargesheet, state education minister Partha Chatterjee said, “Our party will decide the next course of action soon.”
BJP state president Dilip Ghosh welcomed the development and said, “Most of the TMC leaders featured in Narada sting operation are involved in corrupt practices. Law will take its own course. We are happy they were named in the CBI’s chargesheet”.
Two Trinamool MPs — Sudip Banerjee and Tapas Pal — are already in the CBI custody for their alleged link to the chit fund scam.
Sources said, a special investigation team (SIT) will be formed to probe the case.
The CBI has already questioned Mathew Samuel of Narada News who planned the sting operation and allegedly handed over cash to the accused TMC leaders.
Samuel has welcomed CBI’s move. “We always wanted the truth to come out. The CBI has gone through unedited version of the video and they are now convinced that the videos are not doctored and there is no conspiracy. We will cooperate with the CBI in further investigation,” he said.
On March 17, the Calcutta High Court had ordered CBI to conduct a preliminary inquiry in the case in which several TMC leaders were seen accepting money during a sting operation.
When asked, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, “We want the West Bengal Chief Minister to comment on this development. She always maintained that her leaders were framed and that they are innocent. Now, it is proved that all of them named in the chargesheet accepted money and were involved in the crime.”
Mamata Banerjee is scheduled to travel to Bhubaneswar on April 18. One of the main purposes of her travel is to visit senior party colleague Sudip Bandyopadhyay who is in judicial custody in connection with the Rose Valley Ponzi scam case and is currently admitted at a private hospital in that city following multiple illnesses.