A FEW days back The Calcutta high court directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate the ‘Narada’ sting operation of 2016. A division bench of chief justice Nishita Mhatre and justice Tapabrata Chakraborty gave its verdict while hearing three separate public interest litigations (PIL) filed before it seeking independent inquiry into the sting operation.
CPI(M) state secretary Surya Kanta Mishra said- “We demand that the CBI should be proactive. It should immediately arrest the TMC leaders involved in the Narada scam. The Chief Minister should also be brought under the purview of the investigation as it is her party leaders and cabinet ministers who are involved in the scam.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she will appeal against the order in a ‘higher judiciary’.
Web portal Narada News had released a sting operation conducted on 11 Trinamool Congress leaders which showed them allegedly accepting bribe. The sting operation video was released by the portal on March 14, 2016 just ahead of the West Bengal Assembly elections.
The video showed 11 Trinamool MPs, ministers, MLAs and even a senior police officer accepting bribe from a fictitious company.
During the hearing of the case, there were indications that the court may hand over the case to a central agency given that a senior Bengal police officer too was caught in the sting.
The footage of the video was also sent to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) to test its authenticity.
It was found to be genuine and not doctored, as alleged by the Trinamool Congress.
The video caught TMC MPs Saugata Roy, Suvendu Adhikari, Sultan Ahmed, Aparupa Poddar, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar and Prasun Banerjee, state ministers Subrata Mukherjee, Firhad Hakim, Madan Mitra, Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee, MLA Iqbal Ahmed and senior IPS officer SMH Mirza allegedly accepting bribe.
Reacting to the high court order, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that the state government would challenge it in the apex court. “Everyone knows that the sting was published from the BJP office. We are going to the higher court against the Calcutta High Court order”, she told the media in Kolkata.
The Supreme Court dismissed a petition seeking expulsion and CBI enquiry against Trinamool Congress MPs and MLAs shown in a sting taking bribe. The top court has asked petitioner Viplab Chowdhary to approach the Calcutta High Court in the matter.
A 24-minute video of a sting operation, which was released by a Kolkata-based news portal- Narada, purportedly showed 16 MLAs and 5 MPs and one senior police officer, close to the leaders, promising favours and accepting wads of currency notes from representatives of a fictitious firm. The five TMC parliamentarians shown in the sting video are Saugata Roy, Sultan Ahmad, Suvendu Adhikari, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar and Prasun Banerjee.
The video footage, which was released the firt part of the budget session had also shown TMC’s Rajya Sabha member Mukul Roy, a close aide of TMC boss supremo Mamata Banerjee,. Trinamool had earlier denied any action against the leaders shown in the sting video.
The TMC had called the footage a “manufactured video” and threatened to go to court while the Opposition demanded the resignation of Mamata Banerjee, TMC chief, though she does not feature in the footage.
REPORT > Pratyusha Mukerjee, Kolkata, India