A team of CBI officers swung into action on Saturday morning, collecting storage devices from bank lockers to examine the Narada footage, a day after the Calcutta high court ordered the premier investigation agency to conduct preliminary probe.
Led by superintendent Nagendra Prasad, a team of eight officers went to the regional office of a bank where the storage devices containing the footage were stored in a locker.
The CBI officers were obviously in a hurry. Acting chief justice Nishita Mhatre wrote in the order, “I direct the CBI to conduct a preliminary inquiry without any delay and in execution thereof, to take custody of the devices and the CFSL reports which are maintained by the Special Committee in a bank locker, within 24 hours.”
They also collected the laptop of Naradanews.com’s Mathew Samuel and the recording device. The officers are also supposed to speak to Samuel, who conducted the sting operation in Kolkata that allegedly showed some Trinamool Congress leaders accepting bribes.
The order of the two-judge bench of acting chief justice Nishita Mhatre and justice Tapabrata Chakraborty on Friday, gave the CBI three days to examine the footage, documents, devices and all other relevant material and file a report to the court and file an FIR if it is warranted.
It is believed that CBI officers have to look at more than 400 minutes of raw footage which the Central Forensic Science Laboratory in Chandigarh had certified as genuine.
The Narada sting operation has landed chief minister Mamata Banerjee in her biggest trouble so far. The faces who were seen in the video telecast nationwide were those of the prominent and the powerful in the party – Saugata Roy, Suvendu Adhikari, Sultan Ahmed, Aparupa Poddar, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Prasun Banerjee (Lok Sabha MP), Subrata Mukherjee, Firhad (Bobby) Hakim, Madan Mitra (ministers), Iqbal Ahmed (MLA), Sovan Chatterjee (MLA and Kolkata mayor) S M H Mirza (IPS officer who claimed to be taking the money on behalf of party MP Mukul Roy).
“The inquiry shall be concluded within 72 hours thereafter. Depending on the result of the inquiry, the CBI shall forthwith register an FIR, in respect of the alleged crimes and proceed to investigate the same, in accordance with law. The CBI must act promptly since persons with doubtful integrity and who commit crimes affecting the society at large, must be brought to book swiftly,” justice Mhatre wrote in the order.
In a related development on Saturday, pandemonium broke out at Kolkata Municipal Corporation when mayor Sovan Chatterjee rose to place the civic body’s annual budget. Opposition members insisted that Chatterjee, who is also seen in the Narada sting video, resign immediately.