Updated: May 21, 2021 7:09:49 am
The Calcutta High Court on Thursday postponed the hearing in the alleged Narada bribery case by a day even as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee labelled as “political vendetta” the arrest of three Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders and a former Kolkata mayor. State ministers Subrata Mukherjee, Firhad Hakim, TMC MLA Madan Mitra, and former Mayor Sovan Chatterjee were arrested from their homes on Monday morning.
“The matter is sub judice and I do not want to comment. However, I will say whatever happened to them is wrong. It is a clear instance of deliberate political vendetta. Bobby [Firhad Hakim] and his team were fighting Covid from the streets. He even volunteered for a trial of Covishield [vaccine] with risk to his life. Now he and others are kept behind bars day after day. Three to four days have passed. They could not work for days. I hope we will get justice from the court,” the chief minister told reporters.
Meanwhile, the Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Arjit Banerjee that is hearing the case did not assemble citing “unavoidable circumstances”. The matter was scheduled to be heard from 2 pm. Though earlier in the day, Madan Mitra’s lawyer Niladri Bhattacharya wrote to the High Court’s registrar general, asking him to “constitute an appropriate urgent Bench” to hear the matter on Thursday itself, sources said the Division Bench would assemble on Friday.
The CBI has filed a petition urging the judges to transfer the trial from a special CBI court to the High Court, declare the proceedings in the agency court on May 17 a nullity in the eyes of the law, and conduct the proceedings afresh. The four leaders, meanwhile, have appealed to the court to revoke its stay on the bail that the CBI court had granted them.
The agency, represented by Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, on Wednesday alleged in court that Mamata Banerjee and TMC workers had tried to create pressure on its officials and stop them from discharging their duties. The CBI court granted bail to the four “under the cloud of mobocracy, pressure, threat and violence and is a nullity in the eyes of law”, the agency’s counsel argued. The CBI has made Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, state Law Minister Moloy Ghatak and TMC MP Kalyan Banerjee party to the transfer plea.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who appeared for the accused, denied that protest led by Mamata Banerjee against “political vendetta” was connected to the bail granted to the four leaders by the CBI court.
At present, Firhad Hakim is in Presidency Correctional Home while the others are in the Woodburn ward of SSKM Hospital here. The jail authorities on Wednesday said Hakim was suffering from fever and a stomach ache. Asked how her father was doing, the minister’s daughter Priyadarshini told reporters on Thursday, “I talked with the jail superintendent. He said my father is alright.”
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