KOLKATA: Narada News editor Mathew Samuel today claimed before the Calcutta High Court that a delay of two years in making public 'sting' tapes allegedly showing Trinamool Congress leaders taking money was due to a party MP, who took over the ownership of the company which had given him the assignment, refusing to release the tapes.
Hearing of the three PILs seeking a CBI investigation into the Narada sting tapes showing senior TMC leaders allegedly taking money concluded today and the court reserved its order.
Samuel's counsel Arunabha Ghosh submitted before a division bench comprising acting Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre and Justice T Chakraborty that though the sting was done in 2014, it could be released in public only in 2016 as K D Singh, a Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha MP, had taken over the ownership of Tehelka.com, which assigned him to do the 'sting operation' while it was under a previous management.
Ghosh submitted that Singh had refused to release the videos and as such he had later taken those back from Tehelka.
Narada News was later formed of which Samuel is the editor and then the sting videos were released in March, 2016.
Counsel for TMC leaders, including state Cabinet ministers Sovan Chatterjee, Subrata Mukherjee, Suvendu Adhikari, MP Kakali Ghosh Dastidar and former minister Madan Mitra have vehemently opposed the pleas for a CBI probe and one of the main grounds cited by them is the delay.
The counsel have claimed that release of the sting videos allegedly showing the TMC leaders accepting money were purposely timed just before the Assembly elections in West Bengal with the motive to malign the ruling party in the state.
Counsel for CBI, on a query by the division bench on whether there was any legal hurdle in conducting a preliminary probe, submitted that as the central investigating agency was governed by IPC and CrPC, it had the statutory power to make a preliminary enquiry if the court directs.
The bench had during earlier hearings asked the state government and the counsel for the leaders whether they were amenable to a preliminary inquiry by CBI into the sting tapes to establish if any offence was committed.
They objected to the suggestion claiming that no offence had been committed and claimed that the petitioners could not show that any demand had been made for money on a promise to do something for the money giver.