The Central Bureau of Investigation has said that it did not get the necessary permission to initiate investigation against Bharatiya Janata Party leaders Suvendu Adhikari and Mukul Roy, as well as Trinamool Congress MPs Sougata Roy and Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar in the Narada bribery case, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday.
The investigating agency made its stand known in a chargesheet filed in the case on May 17, before it arrested four political leaders, including two ministers in the Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal and another sitting MLA of the party.
The lack of permission against other leaders holds significance as Adhikari and Mukul Roy have joined the BJP since the alleged scam took place in 2014. The Trinamool Congress has alleged that the CBI’s action was politically motivated.
The chargesheet was filed before the judge of the special CBI court.
The CBI said that Adhikari, Mukul Roy, Sougata Roy and Ghosh Dastidar were Trinamool Congress MPs when the alleged crime took place. CBI said it did not get the necessary sanction for prosecuting MPs from a competent authority – Speaker of the Lok Sabha and Vice Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, in this case.
However, the other four who were arrested were MLAs back then and the sanction for prosecution was given by West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, the CBI told the court.
On Monday, West Bengal ministers Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukherjee, Trinamool Congress MLA Madan Mitra and former party leader Sovan Chatterjee were arrested by the CBI and presented to the court as the investigation agency sought their custody. The special CBI court, however, granted bail to all the four leaders.
But, the CBI challenged the bail order in the Calcutta High Court, which in a late night hearing, put a stay on the bail.
The bribery case involves videos published by Narada News, in which several Trinamool Congress leaders were allegedly seen accepting cash in return for favours. The videos, shot by the website’s Chief Executive Mathew Samuel, were released ahead of the state Assembly elections in 2016.
CBI seeks transfer of case from Bengal
Meanwhile, the Calcutta High Court is currently hearing a plea filed by the CBI seeking transfer of the Narada sting tape case from West Bengal, PTI reported. The CBI has also made West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, state Law Minister Moloy Ghatak and Trinamool Congress MP Kalyan Banerjee parties to the plea.
The investigating agency, in the plea, sought police custody of the four accused, adding that it could not seek the same on Monday “as a result of the terror created by and at the behest of the arrested accused persons” by the presence of the chief minister and the others, NDTV reported.
Mamata Banerjee, Trinamool Congress leaders and several party supporters had protested outside the CBI office on Monday after the four leaders were arrested.
The CBI mentioned Monday’s protests in its plea and said that Mamata Banerjee was present outside its office “along with a well-engineered crowd of thousands of miscreants and after ensuring media presence”.
A division bench of acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Arijit Banerjee will also hear petitions filed by the four arrested for recall of the High Court’s order staying the bail granted by the CBI court.