Narada sting case: ED gets court permit to summon TMC ministers
A special court in Kolkata on Wednesday granted permission to issue summons to West Bengal ministers Subrata Mukherjee and Firhad Hakim and three others after taking cognizance of a complaint filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the 2016 Narada sting operation case.
Earlier in the day, the ED had filed its complaint against the two ministers, Trinamool Congress (TMC) legislator Madan Mitra, former Kolkata mayor Sovan Chatterjee and suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer S M H Meerza in the special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court.
All five were charged under Sections 44 and 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
The court granted permission to serve summons on Hakim, Mukherjee and Mitra through the office of Biman Banerjee, the speaker of the West Bengal assembly, as the three were members of the assembly. The court also authorised ED to directly summon Chatterjee and Meerza for questioning.
The case pertains to a controversy that erupted ahead of the 2016 assembly elections after Narada News portal uploaded a series of videos purportedly showing several high-profile TMC leaders receiving money in exchange for favours to a fictitious company. The CBI and the ED are separately probing the case.
Hakim, Mukherjee, Mitra and Chatterjee were arrested by the CBI on May 17 in the same case and released on bail after days of judicial custody during which they were hospitalised.
Meerza was arrested by the CBI in September 2019 and released on bail.
In a complaint filed last year, the ED had named then TMC leader Suvendu Adhikari, who later joined the BJP and is now the leader of Opposition in the assembly. Adhikari was also named in the CBI’s FIR filed in March 2017.
The ED complaint last year also named Mukul Roy, who joined BJP in 2017 but returned to the TMC on June 11. TMC Lok Sabha members Saugata Roy, Kakali Ghosh Dastidar and Prasun Banerjee were also named, among others.
Reacting to the court order, TMC general secretary Kunal Gosh said, “How can we conclude that ED is not working under political orders? It should immediately arrest Adhikari who is a prime accused in the Saradha chit fund case as well. Why is he not being touched?”
BJP state vice-president Jay Prakash Majumdar responded, “ED is following the law. The ruling TMC’s allegations are baseless.”