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Narada: Counsel for TMC ministers oppose CBI probe

Opposing a CBI investigation into the Narada sting operation, counsel for some Trinamool Congress leaders, purportedly seen in video tapes accepting money, claimed before the Calcutta High Court that involvement of ministers in an alleged act cannot be the ground for such a probe.

“Simply because ministers are involved, powerful people are involved, cannot be ground for directing a CBI probe or assuming that they will influence an inquiry by the local police,” counsel Kalyan Banerjee submitted before acting Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre and Justice T Chakraborty.

The Bench asked whether the videos and other devices before the court do not make a case for directing a CBI probe to make a preliminary enquiry and find out whether a cognisible offence is committed.

Claiming that the court cannot pass such an order, Banerjee submitted that an FIR has to be lodged before a police station for initiation of an investigation, which, he said, had not been done in this case.

He claimed that the primary duty of the officer in-charge of a police station cannot be taken up by the court on the basis of a PIL.

The counsel claimed that if the court finds some dearth in investigation by the local police, then only the question of transferring the case to another agency would arise.

Banerjee, who himself is a TMC Lok Sabha MP, submitted that his clients’ rights under Article 21 of the Constitution, which states that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law, will be violated if that is done.

He claimed that under section 39 of CrPC, the person affected must immediately inform the police or a magistrate, which Narada Editor Mathew Samuel had not done after the TMC leaders had been shown in the tapes accepting money.

He claimed that though the offence had been allegedly committed in 2014, the tapes had been made public only in 2016 just before the Assembly elections in West Bengal, thus indicating a conspiracy to implicate a particular political party.

The Bench said that it was concerned with events telecast in different news channels showing respondents in the PIL accepting money.

The matter was adjourned for the day and would be heard again on January 18.
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