A bench of Justice Rajasekhar Mantha of Calcutta High Court has directed that the officials of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) investigating the 2014 Narada sting operation case need not appear before the West Bengal Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee.
This HC directive given on Thursday is a huge relief for the CBI and ED since the Assembly Speaker had summoned them several times. The hearing of this case is scheduled for Friday (October 8). The ED on October 4 had approached the Calcutta High Court for suitable direction against summons issued by West Bengal Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee. The agency alleged that the Speaker was interfering with the investigation of the Narada sting case.
“The petitioner is aggrieved by the arbitrary, unlawful and without the authority of law summons issued by the respondents herein, thereby interfering in the independent and impartial working of the investigative officers of the Enforcement Directorate,” read the plea filed by ED.
ED further said that summons issued by the Assembly Speaker have far-reaching consequences on the rule of law in the country and the independent functioning of the investigative agencies and their officers in the country.
The development came in the wake of five CBI and two ED officials appeared before the Speaker after summons.
The Speaker sought had an explanation on how both central agencies could proceed against MLAs without permission of the Speaker. Summons came in the wake of CBI and ED submitting charge sheet against Bengal cabinet minister Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee and former minister and MLA Madan Mitra in the Narada sting case.
CBI had arrested them along with former Kolkata mayor Sovon Chatterjee on May 17 after filing the charge sheet. Following this, the ruling Trinamool Congress and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had created an uproar leading to a situation of lawlessness. Later all of them were granted bail. ED had submitted a charge sheet against them on September 1. The Speaker had sent summons to CBI DSP Satyendra Singh and ED assistant director Rathin Biswas since the charge sheets were filed on their order.
The speaker said that he was surprised to note that the central agencies bypassed his office. He said that Speaker’s permission is mandatory before filing a charge sheet if the accused is an MLA.
But the CBI DSP had challenged the Speaker’s authority to summon the probe agency. He stayed away from the Speaker’s office on the ground that the agency is prosecuting accused MLAs following the permission of Governor of West Bengal Jagdeep Dhankhar. However, the official appeared before the Speaker after the High Court asked to do so stating the official should “respectfully seek” an adjournment of the hearing.