Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday asked the CBI to record the statement of Narada News portal’s editor Mathew Samuel, who carried out a sting operation that showed people resembling senior Trinamool Congress leaders allegedly receiving money.
Justice Joymalyo Bagchi, asking the CBI to record the statement of Samuel and directed the investigating agency to obtain a certificate of originality of the videos from the portal’s editor, who allegedly conducted the sting operation.
Hearing a petition by TMC MP Aparupa Poddar seeking dismissal of the FIR against her, Justice Bagchi observed that such certificate was required for considering electronic evidence under the Evidence Act.
CBI counsel Ashraf Ali submitted before the court that it had examined Samuel in the preliminary stage of inquiry but has not been able to do so after registration of the FIR owing to his illness.
He submitted that Samuel, the prime witness in the case, had been summoned by the CBI for examining him and recording his statement but he had failed to appear before the agency owing to illness.
Ali told the court that the CBI would examine and record the statement of Samuel shortly.
The court also asked the agency to investigate as to whether Samuel had offered money to the TMC leaders on his own or whether they had asked for money from him.
Asking the CBI to expedite the probe, Justice Bagchi adjourned the matter till June 20.
Seeking dismissal of the FIR against her, Poddar claimed that she was not an MP during the alleged video shoot and as such provisions under the Prevention of Corruption Act was not applicable against her.
It was submitted that the video was claimed to have been shot in April, 2014, while the results of the 16th Lok Sabha elections were declared in May, 2014. Poddar is a first-time Lok Sabha MP from Arambagh constituency in West Bengal.
The CBI has booked 12 top TMC leaders, including MPs and ministers, and an IPS officer in connection with the sting case.
FIR has been registered for alleged criminal conspiracy under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act dealing with bribery and criminal misconduct.
The maximum sentence for these crimes ranges from five to seven years of imprisonment.