The Calcutta high court on Friday ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to conduct a preliminary probe into bribery allegations against top Trinamool Congress parliamentarians and ministers. The allegations – running into several crores – were first unearthed in a purported sting operation by Naradanews.com last year.
Here are key points about the case:
What is it about?
The Naradanews sting operation -- aired just a fortnight before the 2016 West Bengal assembly elections --showed a dozen Trinamool leaders purportedly accepting cash from the representative of a fictitious company in exchange for doling out favours to them. The sting was carried out by Narada News, an investigative news website.
What the court said:
Acting chief justice Nishita Mhatre and justice T Chakraborty of the Calcutta high court asked the CBI to complete a preliminary inquiry in 72 hours and file an FIR, if necessary. They also observed that it is because a senior police officer is involved in the case, that they had to ask CBI to investigate it.
Who were involved?
Six Lok Sabha MPs of the party, three top state ministers and the mayor of Kolkata were allegedly seen taking money on behalf of the party. they include: Lok Sabha MPs Saugata Roy, Suvendu Adhikari, Sultan Ahmed, Aparupa Poddar, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Prasun Banerjee and West Bengal ministers and MLAs Subrata Mukherjee, Firhad (Bobby) Hakim, Madan Mitra, Iqbal Ahmed, Sovan Chatterjee.
IPS officer SMH Mirza, who claimed that he was taking money on behalf of the party’s number two and MP Mukul Roy.
The Trinamool Congress’ position
The party has described the timing of the ‘expose’ right before the elections as a political conspiracy meant to malign the party. In April 2016, the party announced an internal probe on the sting operation which was slammed by Opposition parties as desperate attempt to counter allegations. This is the third big scam – after the Saradha and Rose Valley scandals – that involves top Trinamool leaders.
The Central Forensic Science Laboratory in Chandigarh confirmed that the Narada tapes were genuine and had not been tampered with.