June 26, 2021 4:21:24 am
The Supreme Court on Friday annulled the Calcutta High Court order refusing to accept the affidavits filed by the West Bengal government, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and state Law Minister Moloy Ghatak in the Narada scam case and directed the High Court to consider the plea afresh.
“We request the High Court to first decide the aforesaid applications of the petitioners herein, for taking the counter affidavit/affidavits in response on record, before proceeding to decide the merits of the case,” a bench comprising Justices Vineet Saran and Dinesh Maheshwari held.
“We may further add that to avoid any prejudice to be caused to any of the parties, the order dated 09.06.2021 shall stand annulled and the High Court shall decide the matter de-novo. It goes without saying that after deciding the aforesaid applications of the petitioners, the High Court shall decide the further course of action and proceed with the matter accordingly,” the court said.
On May 17, the CBI had moved the High Court seeking recall of a special CBI judge’s order granting bail to four TMC leaders in the Narada case and sought the transfer of the case from the CBI court to the High Court itself.
In an order on June 9, the High Court had refused to accept the affidavits by Banerjee and Ghatak since the arguments by the state had concluded. The HC had remarked that the state had taken a “calculated risk” by choosing not to put its stand on record earlier and the court did not allow the government to file the affidavit later.
However, the state and both Banerjee and Ghatak argued that filing the affidavit became necessary because the CBI alleged the presence of the CM and the law minister as grounds for transfer of the case and for nullifying proceedings before the special CBI judge.
As per the Supreme Court’s Friday order, the HC will now have to hear the plea de-novo, or as if it is being argued for the first time. If the affidavits are allowed to be taken on record, then CBI will get a fresh chance to refute the stand.
A fresh application will have to be moved before a five-judge bench of the High Court headed by acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal, seeking permission to file an application.
Justices Saran and Maheshwari asked if the Bengal government had waived its right of filing an affidavit since it only brought up the applications on June 7 and 9, although the hearing began on May 17. However, senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, who appeared for Banerjee and Ghatak, argued that there is no practice in the Calcutta High Court requiring parties to file an application seeking permission to file an affidavit.
“CBI filed its affidavit on 2nd of June, without taking liberty and introduced completely new facts,” senior advocate Vikas Singh argued on behalf of West Bengal.
Appearing for the CBI, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that the agency will oppose the plea seeking permission to file the affidavit and in case the HC allows the parties to file affidavits, then the agency would seek an opportunity to argue against them.
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