Calcutta HC orders preliminary CBI probe into Narada case

Central agency asked to complete inquiry within 72 hours Suspension, departmental inquiry against IPS officer S H M Mirza ordered
Report by: 
17 Mar 2017

The Calcutta High Court today ordered the CBI to conduct a preliminary inquiry into the Narada sting footage case, in which prominent leaders of state's ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) were purportedly seen taking money.

A division bench comprising acting Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre and Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty asked the Central Bureau of Investigation to complete its inquiry in 72 hours. The High Court also asked the bureau to lodge an FIR in the case if it deemed necessary after the inquiry's completion. Terming the state police a puppet, the bench said the society at large demands proper investigation on the issue. The bench ordered the CBI to take possession within 24 hours of all devices now in the possession of the court which were used in the sting operation.

Calling it a cognizable offence, the court said the matter involved parliament members, ministers and highly placed government officers of the state, and so a probe by an independent agency was required. The judges also ordered suspension of and disciplinary inquiry against senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officer S M H Mirza within 24 hours. Mirza was seen in the footage and the website claimed that he described himself a "key person who collects funds for the Trinamool Congress". The court gave the order after hearing three Public Interest Litigations seeking an independent probe in the controversy that emerged last March when the portal Narada News uploaded a series of video footages purportedly showing a number of high-profile Trinamool leaders receiving money in exchange of favours to a fictitious company.

Criticising the verdict, chief minister Mamata Banerjee today said her party will move Supreme Court against it. The division bench, while pronouncing the verdict today, had said the entire episode had shattered the faith of people on the government. Taking exception to this, the chief minister said: "How can the High Court say such a thing about a government elected by people. Several ministers have been accused of taking money and majority of them have been elected back by the voters in last year's Assembly elections".

The Calcutta Court's today's verdict came exactly one year after the sting videos showing TMC leaders, ministers and the IPS officer receiving cash surfaced. The Opposition parties had made it a political issue in their Assembly election campaigns.

Key points

CBI to take possession of documents and devices related to the case within 24 hours

The Central investigating agency may lodge an FIR in the case if it deemed necessary after completion of the priliminary probe

IPS officer S H M Mirza should be suspended and departmental inquiry should be initiated against him within 24 hours