In a big setback to the Trinamool Congress (TMC), the Supreme Court on Tuesday approved a CBI probe ordered by the Calcutta High Court into the Narada sting operation case purportedly involving several leaders of the West Bengal ruling party.
A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice J S Khehar also termed as “most unfortunate” the grounds raised in a separate appeal filed by the Mamata Banerjee-led state government against the high court order of March 17. The court said that the plea deserved “outright rejection” even as the state government withdrew the petition after tendering “unqualified apology” for making remarks against the high court.
Finding no infirmity with the high court’s order, the apex court, however, extended the time given to the CBI for registration of the FIR in the case from 72 hours to one month in the case of sting operation that purportedly showed TMC leaders taking money for favours.
“We are also satisfied with CBI being permitted to carry out its obligation and all inferences and conclusions made in the order may not come in the way of the agency for arriving at its findings,” the bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and Sanjay Kishan Kaul, said.
The court said, “the facts of the case is disastrous as CFSL report was found to be genuine and none of the respondents (leaders) disputed their presence (in the sting operation).”
Appearing for senior TMC leaders Suvendu Adhikari and MP Saugata Roy, senior advocates Kapil Sibal and A M Singhvi said that they were ready for an SIT probe or probe by any other independent agency but the CBI investigation should not be held.
They claimed the sting operation was conducted in 2014 but released in 2016 due to political purpose. They also contended the CBI probe would lead to harassment of the petitioners.
“We appreciate your arguments. What we see today is perhaps seemed to come from your experience in being in government,” the bench told the counsel, while rejecting their plea that the matter should not be heard by the high court bench that passed the order on the CBI probe.