Calcutta HC grants interim bail to 3 TMC leaders, former Kolkata Mayor in Narada case
Kolkata/IBNS: In a setback for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Calcutta High Court on Friday granted an interim bail to three heavyweight Trinamool Congress (TMC) MLAs including two West Bengal ministers and a former Kolkata Mayor in the case related to Narada sting operation.
West Bengal Ministers Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, TMC MLA Madan Mitra and ex-Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee, who was earlier associated with both the ruling outfit and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have been granted the interim bail on a personal bond of Rs. two lakh.
The four accused have been barred by the court from giving any interview or passing any comment in the media related to the seven year-old Narada case.
A bench of five judges comprising acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal, Justices Indra Prasanna Mukerji, Harish Tandon, Soumen Sen and Arijit Banerjee, was hearing the CBI's plea against a lower court's interim bail granted to the accused, who were arrested by the probe agency on May 17.
The court was also hearing the four veteran politicians' recall plea on the stay on the lower court's bail order and the CBI's petition to move the case out of the state with the latter being still under trial.
The matter moved to the high court first on May 17 night after the CBI filed a petition to put a stay on the Bankshall Court's interim bail order.
In a little relief to the lawmakers, the Division Bench of the high court last week ordered house arrest of the accused, enabling them to discharge their administrative duties with Hakim holding the topmost position in the city's municipal corporation, KMC.
Meanwhile, the CBI earlier this week faced embarrassment in the Supreme Court after the probe agency filed a separate petition in the apex court.
In a scathing remark, a vacation bench of the top court comprising Justices Vineet Saran and BR Gavai on Tuesday told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the CBI, that "liberty of a person is the first thing to be seen" and personal liberty cannot be mixed with other issues like a Chief Minister sitting on a dharna or protests against the probe agency, Live Law reported.
Following the court's remark, the CBI withdrew its petition.
Mehta was referring to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's apparent dharna at the CBI office following the arrests of her ministers and a lawmaker.
News portal Narada News released several sting operation footage, where TMC's leaders, ministers, MPs and MLAs were seen allegedly taking bribes.
The sting footage, which was released by the BJP just weeks before the 2016 Assembly Elections, and the May 17 arrests have had political ramifications in the state, where the TMC on May 2 this year stormed back to power for the third term, decimating the saffron party.
Questions were also raised as to why several politicians, who crossed over from the TMC to the BJP, were not arrested by the probe agency.
Two of the accused, lawmakers Mukul Roy and Suvendu Adhikari, the former TMC heavyweights, are now top BJP leaders in the state.
Besides, it can't be missed that TMC MPs like Saugata Roy and Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, who are also accused in the case, were not arrested.