The Calcutta High Court on Friday ordered the house arrest of two incumbent Cabinet ministers of the Bengal government and two former ministers in connection with the Narada sting case. The ministers Subrata Mukherjee and Firhad Hakim and former ministers Madan Mitra and Sovan Chatterjee were arrested by the CBI on Monday amid high drama.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi appeared for the TMC leaders and sought a stay on the house arrest order. While the accused have applied for interim bail, the CBI wants the transfer of the case outside Bengal.
Notably, Mamata Banerjee had sat on a protest outside the CBI office along with scores of supporters of the TMC legislators and stones were also pelted at the CBI office. Banerjee had also dared the CBI to arrest her.
The TMC claimed that the arrests were made in contravention of the legal procedures. However, it was Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar who recently sanctioned the CBI’s request to prosecute the four ministers in the Narada case.
What HC said
There was a difference of opinion between the two judges in the division bench entrusted with the matter. While Justice Arijit Banerjee ordered for interim bail, Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal ordered house arrest. Now, the matter has been referred to a larger bench.
The court also rejected a request made by the CBI to stay the house arrest order. Solicitor general Tushar Mehta, while appearing for the central probe agency, contended that the four accused were influential leaders and can threaten witnesses.
Narada bribery case
The Narada sting tapes which were made public before the West Bengal 2016 assembly elections claimed to have been shot in 2014. In the video ministers, MPs and MLAs were allegedly seen receiving money from representatives of a fictitious company in lieu of promised favours. The Calcutta High Court had ordered a CBI probe into the sting operation in March 2017.
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