A five-judge bench of the Calcutta High Court has decided to hear tomorrow the recall applications filed by the All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders Madan Mitra, Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee and Sovan Chatterjee, against a division bench’s order on May 17 staying bail order passed by a special CBI judge.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justices I.P. Mukerji, Harish Tandon, Justice Soumen Sen and Justice Arijit Banerjee is hearing a petition filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against the bail order; seeking to transfer the trial to the high court and as well as the larger issue of the Chief Minister’s dharna at the CBI office.
The CBI’s argument is that the proceedings before the trial judge stood vitiated because of “pressure” tactics adopted by the CM and the state law minister who remained present in court when the bail applications of the accused were being heard.
When the matter was taken up for hearing today, the advocate general, at the outset, informed the court that the CBI had made the state government party to the case in its appeal before the Supreme Court but in the proceedings before the high court, the state had not been made a respondent. To this, the Solicitor General who was appearing for the CBI said he had no objection to making the West Bengal government a party to the case. He followed that up with an oral request to the court to implead the state government, which was allowed.
SG Tushar Mehta commenced his arguments by saying that apart from seeking a transfer he was invoking the court’s jurisdiction under articles 226, 227 of the Constitution of India and Section 482 CrPC on the grounds that the entire proceedings before the special court were vitiated and non-est.
Mehta’s two-fold contentions were –
1) Whether the perceived intimidation could shake the common man’s faith in the system.
2) A constitution bench of the high court should decide the larger issue of rule of law considering the frequent instances of mobocracy in the state of West Bengal.
Senior advocates Kalyan Bandopadhyay, Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Siddharth Lutra, counsels for the accused, expressed their apprehension that this would cause a delay in the adjudication of the proceedings and the issue of bail would be sidelined. The Solicitor General clarified that his intention was not that some accused remain in jail – that may be the consequence but not the intention.
The court acceded to the request of accused persons and decided to first hear their recall applications against a stay of the bail order.
The Supreme Court yesterday refused to interfere with the order of the Calcutta High Court placing four TMC leaders Madan Mitra, Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee and Sovan Chatterjee, all accused in the Narada sting case – under house arrest with liberty to continue official work as an interim measure. It said all parties could raise all contentions before the high court.
The four accused are currently under house arrest. The division bench was split on granting interim relief. While Justice Arijit Banerjee had granted the interim bail, acting Chief Justice Bindal dissented but agreed to place the accused under house arrest. The common order signed by both judges ordered the house arrest of the accused and the placing of the matter before a larger bench.