KOLKATA: The New Year seems to have started off on a bad note for Trinamool Congress ministers accused in various scams. After the arrest of the party’s Lok Sabha leader Sudip Bandopadhyay for his alleged involvement in the `15,000 crore Rose Valley scam, the Calcutta High Court on Friday, while hearing the Narada sting case in which several top Trinamool ministers were caught on hidden camera accepting money, called for an investigation by Central agencies into the case.
A Division Bench comprising acting Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre and Justice T Chakraborty said if any offence was found to have been committed in the preliminary inquiry, then a formal criminal investigation could be initiated. “The evidence available in the Narada sting case calls for a thorough investigation into the case,” said the acting Chief Justice, adding that the investigation should not be carried out by State police authorities and called for an investigation by independent Central authorities, hinting that the case may be referred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Sources revealed that when Advocate General Jayanta Mitra said there was no evidence that the individuals accepting the money had in fact demanded it, the acting chief justice said the case of acceptance of bribe was also not proved in the defence deal corruption case involving former BJP president Bangaru Laxman, but still the case was investigated, he was tried and awarded jail term.
Claiming that the court has no jurisdiction to pass such an order, Jayanta Mitra submitted that the recordings had been made public in 2016, two years after the videotapes were made in 2014 showing TMC leaders purportedly accepting money.
The Narada sting case by a Kerala-based media outlet, showing several top Trinamool ministers accepting bribe, had sent shockwaves in the party camp just before the 2016 Assembly elections. However, the party sailed through it and second-time Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee ordered a probe into the case on June 17 last year. The authenticity of the sting videotapes was ascertained by the Central Forensic Science Laboratory, Chandigarh, in August.