The Calcutta High Court’s specially convened five-judge bench – comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justices I.P. Mukherji, Harish Tandon, Soumen Sen and Arijit Banerjee – today granted interim bail to the four Trinamool Congress leaders, who had been held under house arrest in the CBI’s Narada sting case.
The senior Trinamool leaders granted bail were ministers Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukherjee and TMC legislator Madan Mitra and former MLA Sovan Chatterjee. The court had said yesterday that it will first deal with the recall of order petition by the state before moving to other issues as raised by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.
The court also made it clear that the grant of bail will be subject to personal bonds of Rs 2 lakh for each, plus two sureties. The court also directed that the leaders will not speak to the media on the case or issues relating to the case. The court also said that hearing of the main matter – as presented by Solicitor General Mehta, will be heard on Monday.
On resumption of hearing today, Acting Chief Justice Bindal said: “Yesterday we said we will hear recall application first. Now the issue is, we had stayed bail granted by special court. It can’t be disputed that some issues in recall application and main petition might be overlapping. In view of that our tentative opinion is that we will grant interim bail and then hear the matter. Because hearing of this case will take a week or so.”
Mehta said, “They (the leaders) are influential enough to affect the probe. It may have an adverse impact on the society. I would respectfully urge not to grant interim bail.” He said there may be more hooliganism. He also expressed apprehension the main case could go into cold storage. To this, the bench assured the SG that the main matter will not go into cold storage.
Justice Mukherji said: “We are almost under full lockdown. This probe started in 2017. They were not arrested then and probe was completed without arresting them. Why do you think they need to be arrested now and prevented from discharging their public duties?”
Mehta said: “I would earnestly urge if they are granted interim bail, don’t allow them to interact with media on this issue.”
Senior Advocate Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi said: “Passing an order that mob won’t accompany these leaders is like saying there was mob earlier. Such an order would be to humiliate them and to make a political statement.”
Senior Advocate Sidharth Luthra said: “There won’t be any discussion on pending issues concerning Narada. They can join investigation through VC.” Senior Advocate Kalyan Bandhopadhyay (for the State) said that he has preliminary objection regarding maintainability of the petition. Bench says that all that will be considered, but at this point, the court is on interim bail aspect.
SG Mehta: “One thing we cannot complain before this bench is we have not been heard. Everybody has been heard.”