The Calcutta High Court on Friday ordered the CBI to conduct a preliminary inquiry into the Narada sting footage case, in which prominent leaders of West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress were purportedly seen taking money. A division bench comprising acting Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre and Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty asked the Central Bureau of Investigation to complete its inquiry in 72 hours. The court also asked the bureau to lodge an FIR in the case if it deemed necessary after the inquiry’s completion. Terming the state police a puppet, the bench said the society at large demands proper investigation on the issue.
The bench ordered the CBI to take possession within 24 hours of all devices now in the possession of the court which were used in the sting operation. Calling it a cognizable offence, the court said the matter involved parliament members, ministers and highly placed government officers of the state, and so a probe by an independent agency was required. The judges also ordered suspension of and disciplinary inquiry against senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officer S.M.H. Mirza within 24 hours.
Mirza was seen in the footage and the website claimed that he described himself a “key person who collects funds for the Trinamool Congress”. The court gave the order after hearing three Public Interest Litigations seeking an independent probe in the controversy that emerged last March when the portal Narada News uploaded a series of video footages purportedly showing a number of high-profile Trinamool leaders receiving money in exchange of favours to a fictitious company.