Calcutta High Court sends four Trinamool leaders in judicial custody to house arrest, sends Narada sting case to larger bench

Published : May 21, 2021 22:14 IST

West Bengal Transport and Housing Minister Firhad Hakim coming out of Presidency Jail after the Calcutta High Court placed him and the others arrested in the Narada sting case under house arrest, on May 21. Photo: PTI

Influential Trinamool Ministers Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukherjee, heavyweight party leader and MLA Madan Mitra, and former Trinamool Minister Sovan Chatterjee were placed under house arrest by the Calcutta High Court on May 21. They spent the last four days in judicial custody following their arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation in connection with the Narada sting case. The High Court Bench comprising acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Arijit Banerjee, also ordered that “the entire matter” be heard by a larger bench. A five judge bench comprising Justices Rajesh Bindal, I.P. Mukherjee, Harish Tandon, Soumen Sen and Arijit Mukherjee was constituted for the case.

On May 17, The Calcutta High Court issued a stay on the bail the four leaders were granted by a city court. The following day, the High Court admitted a review petition on the stay order. While Justice Banerjee was for granting interim bail to the four leaders, Justice Bindal was not. “But still I find that considering the age and health issues of the accused, three of whom are said to be admitted in hospital, instead of custody in jail, they can be put under house arrest in their own homes. This court finds guidance in this regard given by Hon’ble Supreme Court… in case titled as Gautam Navlakha vs National Investigation Agency, are fully applicable in these cases,” said the acting Chief Justice.

The court also allowed the accused to “discharge their official functions to manage COVID-19 in the State” by holding meetings through video-conferencing and dealing with official files online. “We direct that the officials will not have any direct access to the accused,” said the court. “Further complete record of any person visiting the house of the accused at his residence shall be maintained along with its duration and the purpose. The jail authorities shall install, if not already there, CCTV cameras at the entry point of the houses in which the accused persons will remain and their recording thereof shall be kept for record to ascertain the persons who visit the accused. Any lapse in this regard shall be seriously viewed,” the court said in its order.

In 2016, a video of a sting operation carried out by news portal Narada News was released showing top Trinamool leaders, including the four arrested by the CBI, accepting cash on camera from a fictitious company in exchange of promises of favours and lobbying. The other Trinamool leaders include Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Saugata Roy, Prasun Banerjee Iqbal Ahmed, Sultan Ahmed, Suvendu Adhikari and Mukul Roy. While Sutan Ahmed has passed away, Suvendu and Mukul have joined the Bharatiya Janata Party.

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