The Supreme Court on Tuesday adjourned till Friday the hearing on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s plea against the Calcutta High Court’s refusal to take on record an affidavit she filed in connection with the Narada bribery case, Live Law reported.
The bench also urged the Calcutta High Court not to take up the matter until June 25. “The Supreme Court had noted earlier on June 18 that the High Court may not take up the matter on 21 and 22,” it said. “Since the matter could not be taken up today, we hope the High Court will not take up the matter on any date prior to the 25th.”
The affidavits were filed by Banerjee and West Bengal Law Minister Moloy Ghatak on Monday in connection with the Central Bureau of Investigation’s petition to transfer the Narada case from the Special CBI Court to the High Court.
The CBI had arrested West Bengal ministers Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukherjee, Trinamool Congress MLA Madan Mitra and former party leader Sovan Chatterjee in connection with the case on May 17.
The CBI told the High Court on May 19 that Banerjee and Ghatak led mass protests against the arrest of the four leaders, adding that there was a “mobocracy” in West Bengal, according to Live Law. Banerjee and Ghatak responded to the accusations. But on June 9, the Calcutta High Court noted that their affidavits were not filed at the right time.
The court said that Banerjee and Ghatak “waited for the arguments in the case to be substantially completed before seeking to place on record their pleadings in response”, according to Live Law.
The Calcutta High Court added:
“The Respondents have taken a calculated risk in not filing their affidavits at the right time, now they cannot be allowed to do so at their own whims and fancies, whenever they wish to do the same.
Urgency of the matter could be appreciated on behalf of the accused, who were in custody but it cannot apparently be on behalf of the State, hence, if the State or other persons impleaded by the CBI wanted to file their response, time could have been sought at that time and not when the arguments are at an advanced stage”.— Calcutta High Court | Source: Live Law
The West Bengal government and the state’s law minister have also filed separate petitions against the High Court order in the Supreme Court. They are also scheduled to be heard on Tuesday.
The petitioners had said that their rights should not be curtailed when the CBI was being allowed to file additional affidavits in the case.
Narada bribery case
The 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.
Banerjee has alleged that the sting operation was a conspiracy hatched against her government and party members before the elections. In June 2017, she ordered a police inquiry into the case.
Seven of the then Trinamool Congress MPs were also involved in the scam. Of them, Suvendu Adhikari and Mukul Roy switched sides to the BJP. Roy returned to the Trinamool Congress on June 11. One of the accused, former Trinamool Congress politician Sultan Ahmed died in 2017.
Following the arrest of the four leaders, the CBI has said it did not get the necessary permission to initiate investigation against Adhikari and Roy, as well as Trinamool Congress MPs Sougata Roy and Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar.