Narada sting operation: Governor allows CBI to prosecute 3 TMC MLAs
West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar has accorded prosecution sanction to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against three Trinamool Congress (TMC) MLAs — Madan Mitra, Subrata Mukherjee and Firhad Hakim — and one former party leader Suvon Chatterjee in the 2016 Narada sting operation case, a development which will empower the central agency to file a charge sheet against all four of them, people familiar with the development said.
Mukherjee and Hakim are set to take oath as ministers in the Mamata Banarejee cabinet on Monday. Last week, Mitra won the assembly election from the Kamarhati seat in West Bengal.
Besides the governor’s sanction against the three TMC legislators and Chatterjee, now a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, the ministry of home affairs (MHA) granted sanction against a 2004 batch promoted IPS officer SMH Mirza in the case. Mirza was arrested by CBI in September 2019.
TMC MP Saugata Roy said: “I cannot comment on it. It’s a legal matter”.
The officials cited above said the central agency had sent a request against the four state leaders in January this year after completion of its investigation.
A statement issued by the Raj Bhavan in Kolkata on Sunday said: “Governor of West Bengal accorded sanction for prosecution in respect of Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, Madan Mitra and Suvon Chatterjee, for the reason that all of them at the relevant time of commission of crime were holding the position of ministers in the government of West Bengal.”
The governor’s office added that he is the competent authority to accord prosecution sanction against ministers in the state.
“The impression generated in some quarters of media that sanction has come to be accorded because these persons at the relevant time were members of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly is factually untenable. The premise of the sanction as indicated is that these persons at the relevant point of time of commission of crime were holding the position of ministers in government of West Bengal,” the Raj Bhavan statement added.
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 a number of high-profile TMC leaders receiving money in exchange for favours to a fictitious company.
In April 2017, CBI registered a First Information Report (FIR) against 12 TMC leaders based on orders by the Calcutta high court.
Dhankhar’s sanction to prosecute the three TMC MLAs and Chatterjee comes even as CBI’s request to prosecute three MPs of the ruling party — Saugata Roy, Prasun Banerjee and Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar — and former TMC parliamentarian Suvendu Adhikari, who joined the BJP and fought and won the Nandigram seat against Mamata Banerjee, is pending with the Lok Sabha speaker since April 2019.
According to Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, prosecution sanction is mandatory before filing a charge sheet against a public servant else the courts will not take cognisance of the charges.