Solicitor General Tushar Mehta on Friday refuted allegations that he met Bharatiya Janata Party leader Suvendu Adhikari, reported Live Law. Mehta, however, confirmed that Adhikari came to his house but the visit was unannounced.
Mehta said that when Adhikari came to his residence, he was already attending a meeting. “When my meeting was over and thereafter my PPS [principal private secretary] informed me about his arrival, I requested my PPS to convey Mr Adhikari my inability to meet him and apologise as he had to wait,” he said. “Mr Adhikari thanked my PPS and left without insisting to meet me. The question of my meeting with Mr Adhikari, therefore, did not arise.”
The clarification came after Trinamool Congress MPs wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking him to remove Mehta from the post of solicitor general of India.
Citing news reports, the MPs claimed that Adhikari, who is accused in the Narada and Saradha cases, was meeting Mehta, who advises central agencies investigating such cases. They said that the meeting was in direct conflict of interest with the duties of the solicitor general.
The letter to the prime minister about the meeting was signed by TMC MPs Derek O’Brien, Sukhendu Sekhar Roy and Mahua Moitra. The MPs claimed that they had reasons to believe that the meeting was to influence the cases in which Adhikari was an accused.
“We state that the act of the learned Solicitor General to provide an opportunity of audience to Suvendu Adhikari not only reeks of impropriety but also raises the question of integrity and taints the post occupied by the learned Solicitor General,” the letter said.
Adhikari, a former aide of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, joined the BJP in December, just months before the Assembly elections in West Bengal.
Narada and Saradha cases
The Narada bribery case involves videos published by Narada News, an online portal, 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. In May this year, the CBI 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.
The CBI did not take any action against Suvendu Adhikari and Mukul Roy – who had both quit the TMC and joined the BJP – citing a lack of the necessary permission. Roy returned to the Trinamool Congress on June 11. Another accused, former Trinamool Congress politician Sultan Ahmed, died in 2017.
The CBI said it was waiting for Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla’s approval to prosecute Trinamool Congress leaders Saugata Roy and Kakali Ghosh Dastidar.
The Saradha scam is related to a company that ran several ponzi schemes in West Bengal, allegedly defrauding lakhs of people. Thousands of crores of rupees were lost after the scheme collapsed in 2013. Its promoter Sudipta Sen was arrested the same year.