KOLKATA: In a major development, the Calcutta High Court on Friday ordered that the four TMC leaders arrested by the CBI in connection with the Narada alleged bribery case be kept in house arrest instead of custody in jail.
The high court also referred the matter to a larger bench. The Kolkata high court order is in tune with the recent judgment of the Supreme Court in the Gautam Navlakha case.
The court also said that the Narada case would now be heard by a larger bench, explaining that one of the judges on the bench thought it fit to grant interim bail, while another did not.
The judges of the division bench – presided by Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal – differed in opinion over vacating a stay given by it on bail granted by a special CBI court to ministers Subrata Mukherjee and Firhad Hakim, TMC MLA Madan Mitra and former Kolkata mayor Sovan Chatterjee.
The bench, also comprising Justice Arijit Banerjee, finally directed that the leaders, placed under judicial remand so far, will remain in house confinement for now.
West Bengal: A two-judge bench of Calcutta HC divided over the stay order. One of the judges Arijit Banerjee is ready to grant bail while the acting Chief Justice is in favour of house arrest in Narada case. Matter to be referred to the larger bench
— ANI (@ANI) May 21, 2021
Hearing in the case is still in progress following prayers from both sides for further arguments on the court’s house arrest order.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the CBI, has pleaded for a stay on the execution of the order. The high court had on Monday night stayed the lower court’s decision to grant bail to the four leaders.
Top TMC leaders Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, Madan Mitra and Sovan Chatterjee were arrested by the CBI in the Narada case earlier this week.
The four leaders were arrested on Monday morning from their residences in the city in connection with the Narada sting case that is being investigated by the CBI on an order by the high court.
The sting operation was conducted by journalist Mathew Samuel of Narada News, a web portal, in 2014 wherein some people resembling TMC ministers, MPs and MLAs were seen receiving money from representatives of a fictitious company in lieu of favours.
At that time, the four arrested politicians were ministers in the Mamata Banerjee government. The sting operation was made public ahead of the 2016 assembly elections in West Bengal.