Kolkata, May 28: The Calcutta High Court on Friday granted interim bail to all four Bengal ministers, arrested in the Narada case by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on May 17.
A five-judge bench of the Calcutta High Court granted interim bail to TMC leaders Subrata Mukherjee, Firhad Hakim, Madan Mitra, and former mayor and ex-TMC member Sovan Chatterjee while asking them to join the probe when required via video conferencing.
The HC bench asked the four leaders arrested in the Narada case to submit a personal bond of Rs 2 lakh each with two sureties and told them not to give press interviews on the scam or interfere with the investigation. “Violation of any condition will lead to cancellation of bail,” the Calcutta HC said.
The four leaders were placed under house arrest on May 19 after a split in the division bench on the question of interim bail, following which the matter was referred to a larger bench.
The High Court bench passed the order after considering the applications filed by the arrested leaders seeking recall of the earlier court order which had stayed the bail granted to them.
What is the Narada case?
The Narada sting operation was conducted by journalist Mathew Samuel of Narada News, a web portal, in 2014 wherein some people resembling TMC ministers, MPs, and MLAs were seen receiving money from representatives of a fictitious company in lieu of favours.
At that time, the four arrested politicians were ministers in the Mamata Banerjee government. The sting operation was made public ahead of the 2016 assembly elections in West Bengal.
What has happened so far?
The four leaders were arrested on the morning of May 17 by the CBI, which is investigating the Narada sting tape case on a 2017 order of the Calcutta High Court.
A special CBI court granted interim bail to the four accused on May 17, but a division bench of the high court — comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Arijit Banerjee — stayed the decision later that day, following which the leaders were sent to judicial custody.
Differing on the application by the four accused of recall of the stay order, Justice Arijit Banerjee on May 21 favoured granting of bail to the four, while Acting Chief Justice Bindal wanted that they are sent on house arrest.
The division bench then passed an order sending the four accused to house arrest, modifying its earlier order that stayed their bail.
In view of the difference of opinion, the bench decided to refer the matter to a five-judge bench, which took up the hearing of the matter on May 24.
The CBI on May 25 moved a special leave petition (SLP) in connection with the high court’s order of May 21 that modified its earlier order of judicial remand to the house arrest of the four, but later withdrew it.
On Thursday, the Calcutta HC bench said it would hear on Friday the plea by four politicians including two Bengal ministers arrested in the Narada case for recall of an earlier HC order staying their bail.