New Delhi: In a major setback for the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s government, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that the ongoing CBI investigation in the Narada sting operation case would continue despite the objections raised by the state government.
The Calcutta High Court had on March 17 ordered a preliminary inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the Narada sting operation in which several Trinamool Congress leaders were seen allegedly taking money. Acting Chief Justice of the Calcutta HC Nishita Mhatre and Justice T Chakraborti had directed the CBI to register preliminary enquiry and submit its report before the court by Wednesday.
The government had then moved the Supreme Court against the High Court verdict. The top court also extended to one month the time given to CBI for conducting preliminary enquiry. The deadline set by the HC to conclude the preliminary probe was Wednesday, 72 hours from the HC’s order.
The Narada sting tapes, which were released to different news organisations before the 2016 Assembly elections in West Bengal, showed people resembling senior TMC leaders receiving money allegedly for giving future favours.
Soon after HC order, the CBI registered a preliminary enquiry in connection with the case. A preliminary enquiry is the first step of a probe by the CBI where the agency assesses whether the allegations have enough material for registering an FIR. If it finds that prima facie it is crime, the agency registers the FIR. The agency has also collected documents related to sting operation and examined some leaders, CBI sources said.
The CBI has already contacted Narada News editor Mathew Samuel who had conducted the sting operation on several Trinamool Congress ministers, MPs and MLAs. Samuel had told the High Court that the recordings were done using an iPhone, which were transferred to a laptop and then stored in a pen-drive.
A committee, set by the high court, had taken possession of all the devices. The anti-corruption wing of the CBI had yesterday said it would submit the preliminary report of the inquiry into to the High Court, if asked to do so. “As per the court order, it is not mandatory to submit the report to it. But the CBI will do so if the court asked for it,” a senior official of the central probe agency said.