After over six hours of high drama the Special CBI court of Justice Anupam Mukherjee on Monday (May 17) granted bail to all the four Trinamool Congress leaders arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation early in the day.
Those arrested were Firhad Hakeem and Subrata Mukherjee (both ministers) and Madan Mitra (MLA) and former Mayor of Calcutta, Sovan Chatterjee. The last named had for a brief period joined the BJP but since he could not get the ticket for the Assembly election, he, it is believed, returned to the Trinamool Congress.
They were all arrested and taken to the CBI headquarters in Nizam Palace and subsequently produced before the designated CBI court in the Narada Bribery case.
The CBI was supposed to file charge sheet in this five year old case.
Appearing for the four arrested leaders, their lawyer Kalyan Banerjee pleaded that these leaders have a big responsibility in overseeing and supervising the corona virus-related works and thus should be granted bail. The CBI counsel on the other hand said that they should be taken into custody as they are powerful leaders who can influence the proceeding of the case. The CBI’s lawyer also argued that the scene created by the Trinamool Congress supporters after the arrest also suggests that they can exert pressure on the trial.
Incidentally, chief minister Mamata Banerjee remained in Nizam Palace, the building housing the CBI office, for six hours.
Legal luminaries are of the view that the granting of bail has come as a big setback to the CBI.
Besides, it has also come as another blow to the Bharatiya Janata Party after the recent defeat in the Assembly election. The manner in which the CBI was selective and did not arrest the two most prominent figures in the same case, former transport minister in the Mamata cabinet Suvendhu Adhikari and former Union minister Mukul Roy, also tarnished the image of India’s premier investigative agency.
The CBI is now likely to move the Calcutta High Court.