Central Bureau of Investigation has moved the Supreme Court seeking adjournment of the Narada Bribe Scam case hearing before the five-judge bench of Calcutta High Court. The agency has challenged the two orders passed by the High Court wherein it has allowed the house arrest of four TMC leaders and placed the matter before a larger bench.
CBI has sought directions to cancel the hearing of the matter before the larger bench which was scheduled today, on May 24th.
The SC has decided to hear the matter at around 10.30 am and the five-judge bench of Calcutta High Court has scheduled the matter for hearing at 11 am.
The arrested ministers include Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukherjee, MLA Madan Mitra, and Sovan Chatterjee. They were arrested on May 17 in connection to the Narada bribery scam.
Considering the key role of Mr. Hakim in the fight against Covid-19, the court has allowed him to work from home.
On May 21, the Calcutta High Court denied interim bail to all four ministers after a difference of opinion between the two-member bench. Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal ordered the house arrest of the ministers whereas Justice Arijit Banerjee ordered interim bail.
The High Court also rejected the CBI request to stay its order allowing the four to leave the jail citing the reason that they are influential people and could threaten the witnesses. CBI has also sought directions to transfer all the proceedings out of the State.
The five-judge bench comprises ACJ Bindal, and Justices IP Mukherjee, Harish Tandon, Soumen Sen, and Arijit Banerjee.
The arrest of the ministers led to massive protests and Trinamool Congress questioned the time of arrest which came after the victory of TMC in Bengal. The party has also questioned the decision to not prosecute Suvendu Adhikari, a former Trinamool member who is now a BJP MLA – and Mukul Roy – another ex-party leader now with the BJP.
Narada bribery case is a 2014 sting operation that was conducted by a journalist who acted as a businessman interested in investing in Bengal. He gave cash to the seven Trinamool MPs, four ministers, one MLA, and a police officer as a bribe and taped the entire incident. The tapes were released just before the 2016 assembly elections in the state.