Updated: May 19, 2021 10:48:35 pm
Just after it arrested four Trinamool Congress leaders in the alleged Narada bribery case on May 17, the CBI filed a chargesheet where it said “permission may please be accorded for conducting further investigation against the remaining accused persons”. The other accused named in the chargesheet include BJP leaders Suvendu Adhikari and Mukul Roy.
In the chargesheet, filed before the Special CBI Court, the agency said, “The sanction or prosecution in respect of accused persons viz Shri Madan Mitra, ex-MLA and minister of West Bengal, Sri Firhad Hakim, MLA and minister of West Bengal, Sri Sovan Chatterjee, the then MLA and minister of West Bengal, Sri Subrata Mukherjee, MLA and minister of West Bengal, have been granted by the competent authority and the same are enclosed herewith… That permission may please be accorded for conducting further investigation against the remaining accused persons u/s Section 173 (8) CrPC.”
The application for prosecution of Adhikari and Mukul Roy, both MPs at the time the Narada sting video was shot, is pending before Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.
A senior CBI official told The Indian Express, “We had sought permission of the Speaker for further prosecution against the others, but are still to receive it. We sent a reminder to the Speaker’s office recently.”
On Monday, the CBI arrested TMC ministers Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukherjee, apart from party leaders Madan Mitra and Sovan Chatterjee. It also chargesheeted IPS officer S M H Mirza.
Apart from the above, the accused named in the chargesheet include Mukul Roy and Adhikari (TMC-turned-BJP leaders), TMC MPs Sultan Ahmed, Aparupa Poddar, Saugata Roy, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar and Prasun Banerjee, and Iqbal Ahmed (Dy Mayor, Kolkata Municipal Corporation).
However, the CBI’s application to the Speaker, sent on April 6, 2019, sought sanction for prosecution of Adhikari, Ghosh Dastidar, Saugata Roy and Prasun Banerjee, but not Mukul Roy, the Accused No. 1 in the agency’s FIR.
A CBI official told The Indian Express, “In the Narada sting video, Mukul Roy was not seen to be taking money nor is there any evidence of him accepting the money. So, proof against Mukul Roy is very weak.”
The Trinamool has asked why even as the CBI has gone after its leaders, it has not arrested Adhikari or Mukul Roy. Those arrested face the same allegations as Adhikari and Mukul Roy.
Adhikari was a Lok Sabha MP in 2014 when the sting operation, in which TMC leaders were seen on camera accepting or negotiating cash deliveries to allegedly favour a fictitious company, was shot. Mukul Roy was a Rajya Sabha member then. The sting was aired in 2016, ahead of the previous Assembly elections in Bengal.
Guidelines of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) state that prosecution sanction must be granted or rejected by the competent authority within four months of a request. The Indian Express had reported earlier that as per CVC records till November 2020, the CBI request for sanction to prosecute the Narada accused was the only such request pending with the Speaker’s office.
For the four TMC leaders arrested Monday, the CBI had got sanction for prosecution from Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar. It sent the request to the Governor in January — two months ahead of the Assembly polls — and got the sanction within five days of the results.
The agency said it had verified the video footage of the sting operation from more than one forensic laboratory, and that all had said it was not tampered with or doctored.
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