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  India   All India  18 Mar 2017  Court orders CBI probe on Narada scam

Court orders CBI probe on Narada scam

THE ASIAN AGE. | RAJIB CHOWDHURI
Published : Mar 18, 2017, 1:28 am IST
Updated : Mar 18, 2017, 6:42 am IST

CBI directed to collect all papers, evidence in 24 hrs, hold a preliminary inquiry in 72 hours.

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee. (Photo: File)
 West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee. (Photo: File)

Kolkata: In a severe blow to West Bengal’s ruling Trinamul Congress, the Calcutta high court on Friday ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation to probe the Narada sting operation in which several top MPs, ministers and MLAs of chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s party were seen accepting cash before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Stung by the high court order, Ms Banerjee said her party would move the Supreme Court to challenge it. A division bench of Acting Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre and Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty of the high court passed the order after finding the Narada footage to be “authentic” Referring to a report earlier submitted by the Central Forensic Science Laboratory, Chandigarh, where the footage was verified, it held the tapes were not tampered with.

Six Trinamul MPs — Sougata Roy, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Sultan Ahmed, Shubhendu Adhikari (now an MLA and transport minister), Prasun Banerjee and Mukul Roy; four Trinamul MLAs, including three ministers — So-van Chatterjee, also Kolk-ata mayor; Subrata Mukh-erjee and Firhad Hakim; Iqbal Ahmed and former minister Madan Mitra were among those shown in the Narada tapes.

According to the division bench, the expose was very important as those who are accused are well-established politically and were caught taking money in exchange for offering favours.

It noted that a free and fair probe by an independent agency was needed to restore faith in the public. The division bench also expressed its lack of faith in the state police.

In a rare move, the bench also ordered a departmental inquiry against IPS officer Syed Mohammed Hussain Meerza, who was also seen taking money in one of the Narada tapes. It observed that Mr Meerza, now posted as commanding officer of the special strike force at Barr-ackpore, in North 24-Pargan-as, could also be suspended if required.

The division bench asked the Central Bureau of Investigation to collect within 24 hours all the documents and evidence, including the sting video footage that were submitted to the high court earlier, and conduct a preliminary inquiry within the next 72 hours. CBI lawyer Ashrf Ali said: “We are happy that the high court considered the CBI suitable to investigate the case so that the truth comes out.”

In a dramatic twist, the chief minister visited Lalbazar, the city police headquarters, on Friday evening in the presence of police commissioner Rajiv Kumar. Narada CEO Mathew Samuel said: “It is welcome... and a very fair decision by the Calcutta high court. What wrong did I do? I have suffered a lot of late.”

Welcoming the high court order, the Opposition parties sought the removal of the “tainted” Trinamul ministers from Ms Banerjee’s government.

BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha said: “We welcome the high court’s ruling. The Trinamul and its government tried to cover up the case by misusing the police administration. We demand the tainted ministers be immediately removed from the Cabinet and the Trinamul MPs caught taking money in the footage must step down.”

Leader of the Opposition Abdul Mannan said: “I wonder whether the chief minister would help the CBI in conducting its investigation or would again hit the streets on the issue.

The Trinamul earlier claimed itself to be a symbol of honesty. But it has now turned into a symbol of corruption.” CPI(M) state secretary Surjyakanta Mishra tweeted: “We welcome the high court verdict to conduct CBI inquiry on the #NaradaString. The TMC-BJP nexus must not be an impediment to conduct proper enquiry.”

Tags: mamata banerjee, supreme court, narada scam
Location: India, West Bengal, Calcutta [Kolkata]