On Wednesday, two days after four TMC leaders who were accused in the Narada Scam, were arrested and were ultimately lodged at the Presidency Jail after legal twists and turns, the Calcutta High Court heard the CBI’s plea seeking to transfer the bail applications of the accused from the Special CBI Court to the High Court. The ‘unprecedented mob pressure’ was exerted by the protests led by the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and State Law Minister Moloy Ghatak. With this, the Division Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Arijit Banerjee also heard the applications filed by the arrested leaders seeking recall of the order issued by the High Court which had stayed the bail granted by the Special CBI Court Judge.
During the hearing, the Calcutta High Court asked TMC whether it was appropriate to carry out protests against the arrests even when their bail hearing was going on.
About the ‘dharna’ led by Banerjee outside the CBI office on Monday, against the arrest of the four accused leaders, Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that the dharna was a means of democratic protest. He alleged that the arrests made were unlawful and people have a right to protest against such illegal acts of the central agency. It was reiterated that the CBI had not obtained the required sanctions from the Speaker and instead approached the Governor. Singhvi mentioned the right to feel outraged and stated that people were outraged in wake of the unlawful arrests. He said that the CBI was using the demonstrations as a mere excuse and they did not create a hindrance to their work.
To this, ACJ Bindal responded by saying that a Chief Minister or Law Minister inciting their followers was not natural and a dereliction of their duty. Regarding the same matter, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for CBI, told the Calcutta High Court that the protests carried out by Banerjee and Ghatak outside the CBI Headquarters and the Court premises were an ‘orchestrated attempt’ to stifle the course of justice and block the CBI from carrying out its duty.
SG Mehta further added that the bail was granted by the Special CBI Court on the first day itself and the investigating agency was not allowed to respond to the application. He remarked that the dharnas had a terrorizing impact on the CBI officials and they, therefore, could not ask for the police custody of the arrested leaders and oppose the bail effectively. A similar effect could also be seen on the prosecution and the administration of justice when Moloy Ghatak carried out protests in the Court premises. He mentioned that the CBI had also invoked Section 482 of the CrPC, which was applicable against the abuse of process of law.
SG Mehta urged that the accused were required to remain under judicial custody to prevent them from influencing witnesses. And he assured the Bench that the medical issues faced by the arrested will be properly dealt with.
The matter was adjourned for further hearing on Thursday, May 20th, and with that, there was no immediate relief to the arrested accused.
In addition to this, the CBI filed a 123-page long petition concerning the alleged scam which named West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and highlighted the misconduct on her part; West Bengal Law Minister Moloy Ghatak; and TMC MP Kalyan Banerjee who is a close aide of Banerjee.
In yet another sensational development related to the case, the Kolkata Police has converted a complaint filed by TMC leader Chandrima Bhattacharya into an FIR against the CBI.
Bhattacharya had long complained to CBI at the Gariahat police station on Monday, May 17th, for arresting the four accused TMC leaders- Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, and Madan Mitra. The FIR has been registered under Sections 34, 66,166A, and 188 of the IPC and 51(b) of the Disaster Management Act.
Bhattacharya in her complaint highlighted that permission to arrest the leaders was not obtained from Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee and no arrest warrant was produced. The complaint sought action against the CBI for arresting the four on the behest of BJP leaders- PM Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and WB Governor Jagdip Dhankar. She also raised the question of Suvendu Adhikari and Mukul Roy not getting arrested.
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