Calcutta HC stays CBI court order granting interim bail to four TMC leaders

Kolkata: In a rare instance, the Calcutta High Court late on Monday stayed the special CBI court order granting bail to four heavyweight Trinamool Congress leaders, just hours after the lower court granted them interim bail following their arrest earlier in the day in connection with the Narada sting operation case.

All four Trinamool leaders will have to stay at the Presidency jail until the case comes up for hearing before the high court on Wednesday.

The state witnessed high drama since Monday morning after CBI sleuths arrested two Trinamool Congress ministers — Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukherjee — along with present MLA Madan Mitra and former Kolkata Municipal Corporation Mayor Sovon Chattopadhyay in connection with the 2016 Narada sting tapes case, in which several politicians and a high-ranked police officer were allegedly found accepting cash for providing unofficial favours to the company.

After day-long drama, the four Trinamool leaders were granted interim bail by a special CBI court here on Monday evening.

Just after the special CBI court granted bail to the four ruling party heavyweights, the Central probe agency moved the high court and appealed before the division bench of the Chief Justice pleading stay on the lower court order and transfer of the trial to another state.

The division bench comprising acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Arijit Banerjee arranged for a virtual hearing where the CBI lawyer put forward the ‘influential theory’ and said that the agency couldn’t even produce the accused in the court because of the deteriorating law and order situation.

Appearing for the CBI, Solicitor General of India, Tushar Mehta, mentioned in his submission that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was present in the CBI office for six hours which was enough evidence of influencing the case.

Mehta also pleaded before the court for the transfer of the case to any other state. The Solicitor General mentioned the presence of the law minister in the court, calling it a strong enough indication of influencing the case.

“In our opinion, the aforesaid facts are sufficient to take cognizance of the present matter with reference to the request of the Solicitor General of India for examination of the issue regarding the transfer of the trial. We are not touching the merits of the controversy, but the manner in which pressure was sought to be put will not inspire the confidence of the people in the rule of law,” the high court observed.

“As during the period when the arguments were heard, the order was passed by the court below, we deem it appropriate to stay that order and direct that the accused persons shall be treated to be in judicial custody till further orders,” it added.

The four Trinamool leaders were taken to the Presidency jail where they will have to stay in judicial custody till May 19.


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