Narada case: Calcutta HC refuses CBI prayer to adjourn matter

By Express News Service
KOLKATA: A Kolkata High Court bench comprising five judges on Friday waived its earlier house arrest order and granted interim bail for three TMC MLAs including two ministers and the former mayor of Kolkata who were arrested in connection with the Narada sting operation case by the CBI on May 17.

Among the conditions of the bail order, the bench mentioned that none of the accused would be allowed to give interviews to the media in connection with the Narada sting operation case and any other case in which they are accused. The court also directed them not to tamper with evidence and influence witnesses in the sting operation case.

The hearing on the CBI’s plea to transfer the case to another state is being heard in the high court.

The court quashed the CBI’s plea for judicial custody of the accused. Friday’s order is said to be a jolt to the central agency which strongly opposed the interim bail plea by the accused.

Two ministers, Firhad Hakim and Subrat Mukherjee, TMC MLA Madan Mitra and former mayor of Kolkata Sovan Chatterjee were arrested by sleuths of the central agency from their residences on May 17 morning, the day the CBI submitted the charge sheet against the four.

As news of their arrest spread, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee rushed to the CBI’s Nizam Palace office and staged a dharna. Irate TMC supporters too assembled in front of the CBI office and pelted stones at the central police personnel who were assigned to guard the central agency’s office.

Citing alleged violence by TMC supporters, the CBI produced the four accused virtually before the magistrate of the CBI’s special court who granted them interim bail at 8 pm on the same day rejecting the CBI’s plea of judicial custody for the accused.

Within hours, the solicitor general of India Tushar Mehta moved the high court on behalf of the CBI by submitting a petition through email and a virtual hearing was conducted without presence of the lawyers of the accused. The high court stayed the lower court’s interim bail order and sent them to judicial custody.

While Firhad Hakim was in the jail hospital, three others were admitted to SSKM Hospital after they complained of illness. Three days later, the high court ordered house arrest of the accused.

The CBI moved the Supreme Court this week challenging the house arrest order and demanding judicial custody of the accused but later withdrew the petition after the apex court did not agree with the central agency’s plea.