A Trinamool Congress delegation met President Ram Nath Kovind in Delhi on Monday to seek the removal of Tushar Mehta as the solicitor general of India, reported ANI.
“We have just met with the President and submitted a memorandum to him regarding the matter of great impropriety concerning the office of SG [solicitor general], Tushar Mehta,” TMC MP Mahua Moitra said at a press conference. “We ask for the immediate resignation of the SG on the grounds of gross misconduct and impropriety.”
The TMC alleged that Bharatiya Janata Party leader Suvendu Adhikari, who is accused in the Narada and Saradha cases, had met 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.
However, the solicitor general refuted the allegations. Mehta confirmed that Adhikari came to his house but said that he did not meet the BJP leader as he was in another meeting at that time. “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.
The TMC, however, was not satisfied with the clarification. In its memorandum to the president on Monday, the party claimed that various news reports with photographs and videos show that Adhikari and Mehta held a one-on-one meeting.
Bringing up the cases against the BJP leader, the TMC said that the meeting raises doubts of impropriety. “To make matters worse, the meeting took place subsequent to an equally improper meeting between Mr Adhikari and the Home Minister of India, Mr Amit Shah,” the letter said.
The party also said that such meetings create a “total mockery” of the criminal justice system and can lead to erosion of the faith of citizens in the judiciary.
On Mehta’s clarification that Adhikari came “unannounced” and he apologised for not meeting him, the TMC asked if the solicitor general would have met an accused if he came with a “prior appointment”. The party also said that while Mehta has given an explanation, he has not been able to corroborate it with evidence.
“The Solicitor General’s efforts to dismiss speculations regarding the clandestine meeting will be of any value only if he makes the CCTV of Mr Adhikari’s visit public,” the letter said. “The sanctity of the office of the Solicitor General on India cannot be seen to be compromised. Public interest, integrity and neutrality of the office of the Solicitor General of India are required to be protected at all costs.”
Earlier in the day, TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee criticised Mehta, saying that he was the BJP’s “secret general” not the solicitor general of India. He said that Mehta has not been able to provide CCTV footage to corroborate his statement even after 72 hours.
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.