House Arrest of Leaders in Narada Case: CBI Withdraws Plea in SC
SC said the actions of other TMC leaders including CM Mamata Banerjee can’t influence grant of bail to the accused.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday, 25 May, withdrew its plea from the Supreme Court against the Calcutta High Court’s order allowing the house arrest of four West Bengal leaders in the Narada bribery case.
The apex court also said that the actions of other ministers, including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee cannot influence the grant of bail to the accused.
“We are not passing anything on merits. The Solicitor General has accepted that the issues are being looked into by a five-judge Bench of Calcutta HC. Thus, permission is sought to withdraw the plea and raise all such issues before the high court,” the court said, adding that it is “not passing any order on merits,” SC said, as reported by Bar&Bench.
Four Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders: Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, Madan Mitra, and Sovan Chatterjee were arrested by the CBI on 17 May in connection with the Narada bribery case.
What SC Said
Commenting on the cancellation of the bail of the four leaders on 17 May by a special Bench of Calcutta HC, SC said that their liberty wasn’t protected.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta representing the CBI, said that the conduct of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee after the CBI had arrested the four leaders had “vitiated the atmosphere” and the order of special CBI court granting bail could not be sustained on that ground, Bar&Bench reported.
The apex court, however, said that “actions of TMC ministers have to be seen separately and cannot influence the grant of bail to the accused”.
“We have not expressed any opinion on merits of Narada bribery case, observations made do not reflect our views on the matter,” the court said, as quoted by PTI.
Why the CBI Had Moved SC
After the Calcutta HC on Friday, 21 May, had ordered house arrest of the four leaders, the Chief Justice of Calcutta HC Rajesh Bindal on the same day had constituted a five-judges’ Bench to hear the matter pertaining to the bail of the four leaders. The case was to be heard on Monday, 24 May.
However, the CBI on Sunday, 23 May, approached SC and also sought adjournment of the hearing on Monday. It also circulated an adjournment letter before the Constitution Bench of the Calcutta HC, stating that it will be moving the apex court against the HC’s orders dated 19 May and 21 May.
The agency has also moved SC against the HC’s order that the matter be heard by a larger Bench of the same court.
The Narada Case
In 2016, editor and managing director of Narada News portal, Mathew Samuel, broadcasted a sting video right before the West Bengal Assembly elections, in which several TMC leaders were allegedly seen taking bribes.
The CBI had lodged an FIR in April 2017 following a court order, naming 12 TMC leaders and an IPS officer.
Just days after the 2021 Assembly elections that saw Banerjee’s historic return for the third consecutive time as the chief minister, the four leaders were arrested by the CBI on 17 May. After Banerjee protested against the arrest outside the CBI office leading to ruckus by TMC workers, the party approached a lower court against the arrest, folowing which they were granted bail.
However, a special bench of the Calcutta HC later cancelled the bail on the same day. On 21 May, the Calcutta HC granted house arrest of the four leaders, instead of being lodged in jail under judicial custody after their arrest.
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