Kolkata: Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to collect Narada sting footage on Saturday and SP Nagendra Prasad will lead the team to collect the footage. Calcutta high court members also join the team in this collection.
Earlier, The Calcutta High Court has directed the West Bengal government to transfer investigation responsibilities in the Narada sting case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The order was passed by a two-judge bench of Acting Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre and Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty.
The bench questioned the neutrality of the administration in conducting an inquiry into the case if it was held by the same state government against whom the allegations are levelled while transferring the case.
Reacting to the judgment, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that she will move the Supreme Court against the order.
Calling the act a “planned move”, Banerjee slammed the BJP and threatened to take the party head on. “If they target us in Bengal…we will target them all over India,” she said.
The case pertains to a video sting by the news website Narada in March 2016, just ahead of the state Assembly polls, where 12 top rung Trinamool leaders and an IPS officer were caught on tape accepting bribes in cash in return for purported government favours to a fake company.
The court has instructed the state to hand over the documents and evidence to the CBI within the next 24 hours and has directed the agency to submit its preliminary report inside 72 hours of its receipt of those documents.
“Depending on the result of the inquiry, the CBI shall forthwith register an FIR, in respect of the alleged crimes and proceed to investigate the same, in accordance with law,” the order says.
“The CBI must act promptly since persons with doubtful integrity and who commit crimes affecting the society at large, must be brought to book swiftly,” it added.
Putting an end to speculation on whether the tapes were doctored, the court declared that the reports of the Central Forensic Sciences Laboratory in Chandigarh and Hyderabad have certified the evidence as “not tampered and genuine”.
Among the prominent Trinamool leaders indicted are Mukul Roy, Saugata Roy, Firhad Hakim, Subhendu Adhikary, Sultan Ahmed, Kakali Ghosh Dastidar and Kolkata Mayor Shovan Chatterjee.
Besides the political faces, former Burdwan SP SMH Mirza was also accused of collecting cash on behalf of the political establishment.
The order also directed the state to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Mirza and recommended his suspension pending inquiry.
CPI-M Leader and Advocate Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya reacting to the judgment said that the accused should immediately be taken into custody.
Banerjee alleged conspiracy, saying, “The BJP state president had said long ago that the court would order CBI investigation after the UP elections. How did he come to know about that even before the judgment was delivered?”
Narada News had claimed that the sting operation was carried during the run up 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Following her victory in the 2016 Assembly polls, Banerjee had set up a special task force headed by the Kolkata Police Commissioner to look into the “political conspiracy” behind the operation. The attempt had to be stalled after the Calcutta High Court passed a stay order on that move.