On 25 June, the Supreme Court stayed an order by the Calcutta High Court refusing to take on records affidavits filed by the Chief Minister of West Bengal and other members of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in connection with the Narada case.
The apex court directed Ms. Banerjee to file fresh pleas to the High court for reconsideration of the affidavit.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and law minister Moloy Ghatak will file for a fresh set of pleas to the High Court. Following which the High Court will decide by the next scheduled hearing – June 29.
A vacation bench of Dinesh Maheshwari and Vineet Saran urged the five-judge bench of Calcutta High Court to reconsider the pleas submitted by Mamata Banerjee.
It requested the high court to consider the application of the two “de novo” (a second time over) before proceeding with the merits of the case. Justice Vineet Saran was re-assigned to the case. He said, “This is a new case…We have not yet read the file. So let us have it on Friday.”
On June 9, Calcutta High Court’s five-judge bench, led by Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal, declined to accept the affidavits filed by Mamata Banerjee and Moloy Ghatak.
Ms. Banerjee and Mr. Moloy failed to file the affidavit on time, the High Court said, “cannot now be allowed to fill the affidavits at their whims and fancies”
The Supreme Court requested the High Court to defer its proceedings of the case on June 18 and June 22.
The apex court said, “We are of the opinion that the petitioners ought to have filed an application (before the high court) to take their respective counter-affidavits on record, especially when submissions or arguments were going on and had progressed substantially….Lest any prejudice is caused to the parties, the order of June 9 is annulled and the High Court shall decide the application de novo.”
The affidavits were significant as they contained the statements of Trinamool Congress on the Narada case, where ministers Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, MLA Madan Mitra, and former party leader Sovan Chatterjee were arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The case dates back to the 2014 sting operation conducted by a journalist for two years under the disguise of a businessman opting for investment in Bengal.
A tape was released during the Assembly election in 2016 showcasing the businessman providing cash as a bribe to seven Trinamool MPs, four ministers, one MLA, and a police officer.
The CBI held the accused into custody, following which Mamata Banerjee staged a protest outside the agency’s office for six hours.
The CBI had filed its petition on May 24. The agency leveled charges against Moloy Ghatak for leading a mob outside the trial court, which led to the first granted bail to the four politicians, including ministers Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee in the Narada case.
The agency claimed that the protest and stone-pelting by the mob prevented the CBI from conducting their inquiry.