The West Bengal government on Thursday said the Central Bureau of Investigation does not need to conduct an inquiry into the Narada News sting operation because the website’s editor Mathew Samuel could not prove that any Trinamool Congress leader had demanded a bribe. The matter will again be heard on Friday, reported PTI.
In March last year, soon before the West Bengal Assembly elections, Narada News had released videos that purportedly showed several TMC leaders accepting cash in return for promising to grant favours to a fictitious company.
Advocate General Jayanta Mitra told a division bench on Thursday that the court can ask the CBI to conduct an investigation only after it is sure that a cognisable offence was committed. Mitra claimed the videos do not show anyone demanding bribe. He cited the Prevention of Corruption Act and argued that there had to be a demand for bribe and then acceptance of the same. However, acting Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre and Justice T Chakraborty asked how the court could “shut its eyes” if it was found in the videos that money was given to the TMC leaders.
After Narada broke the news last year, the Lok Sabha’s ethics committee had sought an explanation from the five TMC MPs implicated in the sting operation. In April, the Calcutta High Court had set up a three-member committee to keep evidence from the Narada News investigation “in safe custody”. West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee had claimed the sting operation was a conspiracy to hurt her party’s image before the elections. In June, she had ordered an investigation by Kolkata Police into the sting operation.