Trinamool delegation meets President seeking removal of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta over his meeting with Narada sting accused Suvendu Adhikari

Published : July 05, 2021 21:00 IST

Trinamool Congress MPs Sukhendu Sekhar Roy and Mahua Moitra with a copy of the memoradum they submitted to the President in New Delhi on July 5. Photo: MOORTHY R.V.

After writing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking the removal of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, a delegation of Trinamool leaders met President Ram Nath Kovind on July 5, seeking his intervention in the matter. The Trinamool Congress demanded the removal of Tushar Mehta after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Suvendu Adhikari, an accused in the Narada sting case, met him at his residence on July 1. Tushar Mehta is the Special Public Prosecutor representing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the Narada sting case in which several top Trinamool leaders (including Suvendu Adhikari, who was with the Trinamool at that time) were seen accepting cash on camera for a fictitious company set up for the sting by news portal Narada News.

A delegation of Trinamool leaders, including MPs Mahua Moitra and Sukhendu Sekhar Roy, handed over a letter to the President on July 5. The letter stated: “The Solicitor General of India, being the second highest law officer of the Republic of India after the Attorney General of India, advises the Government of India and its various organs in crucial legal matters. Thus, a meeting between an accused person in grave criminal offences and the Solicitor General of India, who is advising the very investigating agencies who are investigating and prosecuting such an accused person, reeks of impropriety and is a blatant conflict of interest. Such a meeting makes a total mockery of the criminal justice system in our country and would only serve to destroy the common man’s faith in the judiciary.”

Earlier, in a letter to the Prime Minister dated July 2, the Trinamool Congress had said the alleged meeting between Suvendu Adhikari and Tushar Mehta was “organised to influence the outcome of matters where Suvendu Adhikari is an accused, using the high offices of the learned Solicitor General”. The letter urged Modi to remove Tushar Mehta from his post to “avoid any doubt in the mind of the public at large, as to the integrity and neutrality of the office of the learned Solicitor General of India…”. The letter also referred to tweets on social media by “prominent personalities”, questioning the meeting between Tushar Mehta and Suvendu Adhikari, “which, curiously took place subsequent to a meeting of Suvendu Adhikari with the Hon’ble Home Minister Sri Amit Shah”.

Both have maintained that no meeting took place. Tushar Mehta said he was unavailable when Suvendu Adhikari came to his residence. In a statement, he said, “Shri Suvendu Adhikari did come to my residence cum office yesterday at around 3:00 p.m., unannounced. Since I was already in a pre-scheduled meeting in my chamber, my staff requested him to sit in the waiting room of my office building and offered him a cup of tea. When my meeting was over and thereafter my PPS [principal private secretary] informed me about his arrival, I requested my PPS to convey Mr Adhikari my inability to meet him and apologise as he had to wait.”

The Trinamool Congress, however, was not willing to accept this statement at face value, pointing out that Suvendu Adhikari remained at Mehta’s residence for around 30 minutes. Abhishek Banerjee, Lok Sabha MP and national general secretary of the Trinamool Congress, posted on social media on July 5, “Even after 72 hours, Mr Tushar Mehta, Hon'ble SG of India, has failed to release the 20 mins of CCTV footage of his OWN HOUSE to corroborate his OWN STATEMENT. Mr SG, with such weak defence you can continue serving as @BJP4India's SECRET GENERAL, not INDIA’S SOLICITOR GENERAL.” Mahua Moitra had earlier tweeted, “Narada accused enters home of SG (who is also Special PP, CBI in Narada case) in vehicle, is checked & waved inside by security guards & exits after 30 mins. They say nothing happened. Yeah, right.”

On May 17, just two weeks after the Trinamool stormed back to power for its third consecutive term in the State, the CBI had arrested Cabinet Ministers Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukherjee; senior party leader Madan Mitra; and Trinamool heavyweight Sovan Chatterjee in connection with the Narada sting case. The fact that the CBI appeared to be sidestepping Suvendu Adhikari and BJP vice president Mukul Roy (at that time an influential Trinamool leader) who was giving instructions to the operator to hand over the money to his close aide, raised questions in political circles on the manner in which the matter was being investigated. Mathew Samuel, the main architect of the sting operation, had said, “There is only one sad thing – I had gone and given money to Suvendu Adhikari in his office. But his name is not in the list…. What I am saying is that the investigation should be fair.” Mukul Roy, incidentally, returned to the Trinamool Congress after the BJP’s humiliating defeat in the Assembly election.

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