The five-judge bench of the Calcutta High Court hearing the bail petition of four Trinamool Congress leaders in connection with the Narada bribery case on Thursday told the Central Bureau of Investigation that following procedure was important when fundamental rights of the accused are involved, Live Law reported.
The central agency had arrested West Bengal ministers Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukherjee, Trinamool Congress MLA Madan Mitra and former party leader Sovan Chatterjee on May 17. They were granted interim bail by a special CBI court later that day. But, this bail order was stayed by a division bench of the High Court in a late night hearing the same day. On May 21, the High Court ordered that the four leaders will be kept under house arrest instead of being in jail.
A two-judge bench of Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Arijit Banerjee had differences of opinion on granting bail to the accused. Bindal had ordered house arrest, while Justice Banerjee had ordered interim bail.
After this, a five-judge bench, which includes Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justices IP Mukerji, Harish Tandon, Soumen Sen and Arijit Banerjee, was constituted to hear the matter.
On May 28, the High Court granted bail to the four leaders. But it is valid till the five-judge bench gives a final order in this case.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the central agency, told the court that the special CBI court was under pressure to grant bail to the four leaders. He said West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sat on a dharna at the premier investigating agency’s premises on May 17 after the arrests. The hearing was vitiated on account of mob pressure, the CBI claimed
During Thursday’s hearing, Justice Sen sought to know what would happen to the rights of accused if the court cancelled the proceedings before the special CBI court. “Procedure becomes important when people’s rights are involved,” Justice Mukerji observed.
The bench also questioned why the CBI approached the High Court in an “extraordinary” manner by sending a letter on May 17 instead of filing a normal appeal against the bail order, The Indian Express reported.
“Letter was sent in public interest as an immediate resort,” Mehta said, adding that a formal petition was filed later.
The five-judge bench adjourned the hearing and will take up the matter on June 7.