A team of CBI officers on Sunday recorded the statements of several persons, including Naradanews.com CEO Mathew Samuel and those who had moved Calcutta high court seeking a CBI investigation into the Narada sting episode. The agency is supposed to submit them before the high court on Tuesday.
While the statement of Congress leader Amitabha Chakraborty, who along with two other had filed the case in the high court, was recorded at the CBI office, Samuel was sent a set of 12 questions via email, to which he promptly replied.
From Samuel’s residence in Delhi, CBI officers took in their possession the tools used for editing the footage.
On the other hand, the Trinamool leaders accused in the case and the state government officials were busy finalising lawyers to appeal in the Supreme Court against the high court verdict. The three persons who had filed public interest litigation in the high court seeking CBI probe has already filed a caveat in the apex court to avoid the state’s appeal to be heard without the presence of the petitioners’ lawyers.
“We have already filed a caveat in the Supreme Court and our lawyers are prepared to counter the state government and accused Trinamool leaders in the apex court. We hope the CBI investigation will be neutral, as the high court itself will monitor it,” Chakraborty told the media after the CBI recorded his statement.
Sources in the state government claimed a senior Congress leader-cum-lawyer has agreed to represent the government in the apex court.On Friday, the Calcutta high court division bench comprising acting Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre and Tapabrata Chakraborty gave the CBI three days to examine the footage, documents, devices and all other relevant material and file a report to the court and start an FIR if it is warranted.
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.”
“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,” justice Mhatre wrote.
Following the order, a team of eight CBI officers, led by superintendent Nagendra Prasad, swung into action and on Saturday collected storage devices from bank lockers to examine the Narada footage, the laptop of Naradanews.com’s Mathew Samuel and the recording device.
The stock of more than 400 minutes of raw footage was kept in a bank locker under the court’s instruction. The Central Forensic Science Laboratory in Chandigarh had certified the footage as genuine.
The Narada sting operation has posed the biggest trouble for chief minister Mamata Banerjee so far, as the faces seen in the video are some if the most prominent and powerful leaders 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).