West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankar has on Sunday accorded sanction to the CBI, for the prosecution of West Bengal politicians Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, Madan Mitra and Sovan Chatterjee (who had left the Trinamool and joined the BJP but has dissociated himself from the BJP too) in the Narada sting operation case.
Interestingly, all four ministers were a part of Mamata Banerjee’s cabinet when their name appeared in the Narada sting tapes scandal in 2014.
A statement issued by the officer on special duty (communication), Raj Bhavan said that the sanction for prosecution of the four leaders was accorded by the WB Governor after the CBI had made a request for the same. The central agency also made available entire documentation relevant to the case to Dhankar, who then invoked his powers under Article 163 and 164 of the Constitution, being the competent authority to accord such sanction.
Speaking about the decision, a Raj Bhavan official said on Sunday: “Honourable governor is the competent authority to accord sanction in terms of law as he happens to be the appointing authority for such ministers in terms of Article 164 of the Constitution.”
Dhankar’s decision comes hours after Subrata Mukherjee, Madan Mitra, and Firhad Hakim have been re-elected as MLAs in the recently concluded state Assembly elections. Hakim and Subrata Mukherjee are to be sworn in Mamata Banerjee’s cabinet on Monday as their names feature in the list of 43 names of ministers released by TMC.
What was the Narada sting operation case
The Narada sting operation case, as the name suggests, was a series of sting operations conducted by Narada news portal chief Mathew Samuel in West Bengal to expose the corrupt practices of ministers in the Mamata Banerjee government.
The tapes of the sting operation were shot over a period of two years beginning in the year 2014. The sting was earlier to be published in Tehelka magazine. It was carried out by Matthew Samuel who later quit Tehelka and launched his own TV channel in West Bengal.
The tapes of the sting operation was made public before the 2016 assembly elections in West Bengal.
In the tapes, a host of top Trinamool leaders were seen accepting bribes for helping the company.
Besides these four leaders, there was a host of other Trinamool Congress leaders, namely, former Kolkata Municipal Corporation deputy mayor Iqbal Ahmed, Trinamool MPs Aparupa Poddar, Saugata Roy, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Prasun Banerjee and Sultan Ahmed (he passed away in 2017), former minister Madan Mitra, and Sujay Bhadra and Karan Sharma (close aides of Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek), Mukul Roy and Suvendu Adhikari (both with the BJP now), who were named in the scam.
The accused initially had disputed the contents of the tapes but when the Central Forensic Laboratory confirmed the authenticity of the tape, the Trinamool leaders said that they had taken the money for charitable purposes and for the party’s coffers.
The Calcutta High Court had ordered a CBI probe into the sting operation in March, 2017.