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HC stays bail given to West Bengal ministers and leaders arrested by CBI in Narada sting case

·3-min read

Kolkata, May 17 (PTI) The Calcutta High Court on Monday night stayed a lower court's decision to grant bail to two TMC ministers and an MLA along with a former party leader, arrested and charge-sheeted by the CBI in Narada sting tape case.

The central agency moved a division bench of Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Arijit Banerjee soon after a special CBI court granted bail to the leaders -- state ministers Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukherjee, TMC MLA Madan Mitra, and former TMC leader and erstwhile Mayor of Kolkata Sovan Chatterjee.

The division bench said it deemed it appropriate to stay the special court's order and direct that the 'accused person shall be treated to be in judicial custody till further orders'.

The court directed that the matter will be heard again on May 19.

The authority in whose custody they are kept shall ensure that they have all medical facilities available as required and they are treated in terms of the provisions of the jail manual, it added.

The CBI was represented in the high court by Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta.

The CBI office at Nizam Palace in Kolkata became the latest political battleground in the state as chief minister Mamata Banerjee arrived along with the kin of these politicians and demanded that she also be arrested while angry protestors gathered at the site, defying the ongoing coronavirus lockdown, and hurled stones and bricks at security personnel.

The bench noted that the CBI moved the high court 'to deal with an extraordinary situation where Chief Minister of the State can sit on a dharna outside the office of the Central Bureau of Investigation along with her supporters.' The CBI also claimed that the Law Minister of West Bengal was present in court where the accused were to be presented along with a 'mob of 2,000 to 3,000 supporters.' The CBI further claimed that the Chief Minister, Law Minister and other senior ministers of the West Bengal government along with their supporters in thousands were obstructing the CBI in discharge of its official duties.

The investigating agency claimed that a number of followers of the arrested political leaders gheraoed the CBI office in the Nizam Palace area and did not allow the CBI officers to move out of their office to enable them to produce the accused in court.

The leaders were produced before the special CBI court virtually and were granted bail.

The agency also claimed before the high court that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee arrived at the spot at 10.50 am and sat on dharna along with the mob, demanding unconditional release of the arrested persons from the CBI office.

The matter was mentioned before the high court in the afternoon seeking direction to the state to allow the CBI to discharge its function.

Solicitor General Mehta submitted before the court, which heard the matter in virtual mode, that it is a case in which there is total failure of rule of law.

Appearing for the state, Advocate General Kishore Dutta submitted that CBI officers were provided full protection by the local police for discharge of their duty.

He further claimed that there is no official complaint filed by the CBI with the police about any incident.

Passing the order, the division bench observed that confidence of the people in the justice system will be eroded in case such types of incidents are allowed to happen in matters where political leaders are arrested and are to be produced in court.

'Public trust and confidence in the judicial system is more important, it being the last resort,' the high court bench observed. PTI AMR SKL SMN SMN