Narada case: TMC ministers, leaders get bail after a day of high drama  

The TMC has accused the CBI of acting at the behest of the BJP-led Centre

Mamata Banerjee
Mamata has accused the BJP of playing politics by arresting her party's leaders

There is no dearth of drama in West Bengal, even after the Assembly polls.

A special CBI court granted interim bail to all three TMC leaders, two of them ministers in the new Cabinet, in the Narada sting operation case within hours of their dramatic arrest by the investigating agency on Monday.

Justice Anupam Mukherjee of the Bankshall Court granted bail to Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee, Transport Ministers Firhad Hakim, TMC MLA from Kamarhati Madan Mitra and former Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee against a personal bond of Rs 50,000 each.

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The court order came after the CBI had pressed charges during a virtual hearing against the four politicians and suspended police officer SMH Mirza, seeking 14-day police custody of the four as they could “influence” the justice process. Mirza, who was arrested earlier in the case, is out on bail.

The court, however, did not find much merit in the CBI argument and granted bail to the accused in what is perceived as another important political victory for the TMC against its arch-rival BJP.

The way the CBI ignored prosecutorial processes in carrying out the arrest and went selectively after the TMC members sparing the BJP leaders Suvendu Adhikari and Mukul Roy, who were also accused in the same case, raised questions about the agency’s impartiality.

The TMC accused the CBI of acting at the behest of the BJP-led Centre, an allegation that has been supported even by parties such as the CPI(M) and the Congress.

The BJP leader Rahul Sinha, however, strongly denied that the party had anything to do with the case. But the way the event unfolded, there is no denying that the granting of bail to its leaders by the court has come as another political victory for the party.

“As expected the court has set free all the four, vindicating our stand that the arrests were not made following proper legal procedures. It is another major embarrassment for the BJP,” said TMC spokesperson and MP Saugata Roy.

The details of the order were not known immediately as the full copy of the order was not yet available. The CBI had picked up the four leaders after raiding their houses in various part of South Kolkata earlier in the morning on May 17 and took them to the CBI’s Nizam Palace office, where they were made to sign the arrest memos.

Legal experts, however, had said that the CBI violated due process of the law in carrying out the arrests and that it did not even take the mandatory consent of the Assembly speaker before arresting the three lawmakers.