New Delhi, May 27 (ILNS): The Calcutta High Court today granted interim bail to four Trinamool Congress leaders who had been held under house arrest in the CBI’s Narada sting case.
The senior TMC leaders granted bail are ministers Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee and TMC legislators Madan Mitra and former MLA Sovan Chatterjee.
A specially convened five-judge bench of the High Court comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal, Justice IP Mukherji, Justice Harish Tandon, Justice Soumen Sen and Justice Arijit Banerjee granted interim bail to the four Trinamool Congress leaders and directed them to deposit a personal bonds of Rs 2 lakh and two sureties of the like amount each. The court also directed that the leaders will not speak to the media on issues relating to the case.
The Court clarified that the interim bail will be subject to final order in the case and the same will be cancelled if CBI’s allegations are proved to be right.
The court while hearing the case yesterday said that it will first deal with the recall of order petition by the state before moving to other issues as raised by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.
The court also said that hearing of the main matter as presented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, will be heard on Monday.
Minister Subrata Mukerjee, TMC MLA Madan Mitra and former TMC leader Sovan Chatterjee were arrested by CBI on May 17. They were granted interim bail by a special CBI court later that day. But The bail order was stayed by a division bench of the High Court in a late night hearing on the same day.
TMC Minister Firhad Hakim, who was also arrested by CBI the same day was sent to a health facility in Presidency Correctional Home.
Mr Mitra and Mr Chatterjee were shifted to SSKM hospital on May 18 as both complained of breathlessness. On May 21, The High Court directed that the four leaders be kept under house arrest.
The High court had earlier stayed the bail order granted by the special court so four leaders filed a recall application against the stay of their bail.On resumption of hearing today, Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal said: “Yesterday we said we will hear recall application first. Now the issue is, we had stayed bail granted by special court. It can’t be disputed that some issues in recall application and main petition might be overlapping. In view of that our tentative opinion is that we will grant interim bail and then hear the matter. Because hearing of this case will take a week or so.”
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta while opposing the interim bail application said that “They (the leaders) are influential enough to affect the probe. It may have an adverse impact on the society. I would respectfully urge not to grant interim bail.” He said there may be more hooliganism. He also expressed apprehension the main case could go into cold storage.
To this the bench assured the SG that the main matter will not go into cold storage.
Justice IP Mukerji said, “We are almost under full lockdown. This probe started in 2017. They were not arrested then and probe was completed without arresting them. Why do you think they need to be arrested now and prevented from discharging their public duties?”
Mehta said, “I would earnestly urge if they are granted interim bail, don’t allow them to interact with media on this issue.”
Senior Advocate Dr Abhisekh Manu Singhvi said, “Passing an order that mob won’t accompany these leaders is like saying there was mob earlier. Such an order would be to humiliate them and to make a political statement.”
Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra said, “There won’t be any discussion on pending issues concerning Narada. They can join investigation through VC.”
Senior Advocate Kalyan Bandhopadhyay (for the State) said that he has preliminary objection regarding maintainability of the petition. Bench said that all that will be considered, but the at this point the court is on interim bail aspect.
SG Mehta said, “One thing we cannot complain before this bench is we have not been heard. Everybody has been heard.”
Following a five-minute conference break, the bench reassembled and declared that the four leaders had been granted interim bail.
The Narda bribery case involves videos published by Narada News in which several Trinamool leaders were allegedly seen accepting cash in return of favors. Out of the Seven Trinamool Congress MPs, said to be involved in the scam, Suvendu Adhikari and Mukul Roy switched sides to the Bhartiya Janta Party. One of the accused Sultan Ahmed died in 2017. The videos shot by Narda News were released in 2016, The case was handed over to the CBI for investigation/ILNS/ SJ/ SNG