Narada sting operation case calls for probe by central agency, says Calcutta High Court
However, Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre did not say if the case would be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The Calcutta High Court on Friday said an independent central agency should investigate the sting operation carried out by Narada News in which several Trinamool Congress legislators were seen taking bribes. “The evidence available in the Narada sting case calls for a thorough investigation into the case,” said Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre.
Mhatre said the investigation should not be carried out by the state police. However, she did not mention whether the case would be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation, reported The New Indian Express.
This comes a day after West Bengal Advocate General Jayanta Mitra told the court that there was no need for a CBI probe into the case because the website’s editor Mathew Samuel could not prove that any TMC leader had demanded a bribe. Mitra had argued that there was no proof of the leaders demanding money. During the ruling on Friday, Mhatre cited the instance of a defence deal corruption case against Bharatiya Janata Party leader Bangaru Laxman. She said the politician was tried and awarded jail term although there was no proof that he had demanded the bribe, reported ABP Ananda.
In March last year, right before the West Bengal Assembly elections, Narada News had released videos that purportedly showed several TMC leaders accepting cash in return for favours.
After Narada broke the news, Lok Sabha’s ethics committee sought an explanation from the five TMC legislators shown in the videos. In April, the Calcutta High Court 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 the Kolkata Police into the sting operation.
This comes as two of TMC’s legislators were recently arrested in connection with a chit fund scam. Banerjee has held that the arrests were a result of political vendetta on the part of the Narendra Modi government because of her party’s stand against the Centre’s demonetisation move.