The Calcutta High Court on Friday ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation to look into the sting operation carried out by Narada News, in which several Trinamool Congress legislators had purportedly been seen taking bribes. The investigation had been conducted before the May 2016 Assembly elections.
Acting Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre and Justice T Chakraborty have asked the CBI to conduct a preliminary inquiry within the next 72 hours, reported Hindustan Times. The court also asked the agency to file an FIR if necessary.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she will appeal against the court order in a “higher judiciary”. “Everyone knows this that the sting was published from a BJP office,” she alleged.
Earlier in January, the Calcutta High Court had indicated that it may hand over the case to an independent central agency. “The evidence available in the Narada sting case calls for a thorough investigation,” Mhatre had said. The probe was then being handled by the state police.
In March last year, right before the West Bengal elections, Narada News had released videos that purportedly showed several TMC leaders accepting cash in return for favours. The Lok Sabha’s ethics committee had sought an explanation from the five TMC legislators shown in the clips. In April 2016, the high court had set up a three-member committee to keep evidence from the Narada News investigation “in safe custody”.
Earlier too, Banerjee had alleged that the sting operation was a conspiracy against her government and party members. She had claimed that it was meant to hurt her party’s image before the polls. In June, she had ordered a Kolkata Police inquiry into the case.
This comes after two TMC legislators were 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.