Mamata Banerjee said there was no reason to worry as “a mere FIR does not prove any one guilty”.
Kolkata: In a major blow to West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamul Congress, the Central Bureau of Investigation on Monday registered an FIR against a dozen TMC leaders and a serving IPS officer over the Narada sting operation exactly a month after the Calcutta high court directed it to probe the allegations that they had taken bribes in cash in exchange for favours.
The politicians booked in the case include six Trinamul MPs — Sougata Roy, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Sultan Ahmed, Prasun Banerjee, Aparupa Poddar and Mukul Roy; four Trinamul ministers in the West Bengal government — Sovan Chatterjee (also Kolkata mayor), Subrata Mukherjee, Shubhendu Adhikari (who was caught in the sting while he was an MP) and Firhad Hakim; Trinamul MLA Iqbal Ahmed, brother of MP Iqbal Ahmed; and Saradha chit fund scam accused Madan Mitra, a former Trinamul MLA and minister, sources revealed.
This is perhaps the first time when so many heavyweight politicians of a ruling party in the state have been booked at one go in a corruption case. The IPS officer named in the FIR is S.M.H. Meerza of the 2005 batch from the state cadre, who is now posted as commanding officer of the West Bengal Armed Police special strike force based at Barrackpore in North 24-Parganas.
In a statement, the CBI said in the evening that the case was registered under Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 7 and 13(2), read with 13(1)(a) and (d), of then Turn to Page 4 Prevention of Corruption Act against “certain members of Parliament; members of the Legislative Assembly/ministers; then MP/then MLA and a police officer of West Bengal on conclusion of the preliminary enquiry initiated by it....”
A CBI spokesman said: “The CBI conducted the preliminary enquiry into the said allegations expeditiously. The enquiry revealed prima facie material for registration of a regular case (FIR) under appropriate sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 and the IPC.”
Reacting to the CBI case against her party leaders, the chief minister said on Monday evening that it was a “political game” which she said her party would tackle “politically”. Ms Banerjee said there was no reason to worry as “a mere FIR does not prove any one guilty”. The Opposition parties in the state, however, attacked her and questioned her previous claim that the Narada sting operation was an effort to malign her party.
The Trinamul leaders had earlier challenged the high court’s order for the CBI’s PE in the Supreme Court, which had however upheld the high court order and also relaxed the timeline for conclusion of the PE by granting the CBI one month’s time from the date of the high court order.
Expressing his satisfaction over the CBI’s case, Narada CEO Mathew Samuel said: “It’s a welcome move. Since the beginning I have been saying the truth should come out. I believe the CBI has examined the footage and has finally concluded that they were not tampered with. That is why it initiated the case.”
The CBI has entrusted its anti-corruption branch with the probe, which will begin with summoning the accused for questioning, sources said. The ACB is expected to set up a special investigation team, which is likely to include officers and technical experts from its headquarters in New Delhi.