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BREAKING : Calcutta High Court Grants Interim Bail To 4 Trinamool Leaders In Narada Case

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
28 May 2021 7:13 AM GMT
BREAKING : Calcutta High Court Grants Interim Bail To 4 Trinamool Leaders In Narada Case
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A 5-judge bench of the Calcutta High Court on Friday granted interim bail to four Trinamool Congress leaders- Firhad Hakim, Madan Mitra, Subrata Mukherjee and Sovan Chatterjee- who have been under judicial custody since their arrest by the CBI in the Narada case on May 17. They were placed under house arrest on May 19, following a split in the division bench on the question of interim bail,...

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A 5-judge bench of the Calcutta High Court on Friday granted interim bail to four Trinamool Congress leaders- Firhad Hakim, Madan Mitra, Subrata Mukherjee and Sovan Chatterjee- who have been under judicial custody since their arrest by the CBI in the Narada case on May 17.

They were placed under house arrest on May 19, following a split in the division bench on the question of interim bail, and the matter was referred to the larger bench.

A bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal, Justices IP Mukerji, Harish Tandon, Soumen Sen and Arijit Mukherjee passed the order after considering the applications filed by the arrested leaders seeking recall of the May 17 order passed by the division bench, which had stayed the bail granted to them.

The bench imposed a condition that the four leaders should not make press statements or make media discussions on the pending trial in the Narada case. The bench also clarified that the interim-bail will be subject to the final order in the case, and that the same will stand cancelled, if the CBI succeeds in its petition.

The have been asked to furnish a personal bond of Rupees two lakhs with two solvent sureties. They should also join the investigation, if called, through video-conferencing.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CBI, opposed the grant of interim-bail by saying that the accused are influential enough to affect the pending trial. The SG also said that the accused have the potential to gather a mob by arousing public emotions, which can derail the investigation or the trial.

At this juncture, the bench asked the Solicitor General if it is necessary to keep the arrested leaders - two of them Cabinet Ministers and one of them a legislator- under custody when they were not arrested during the investigation for over 4 years.

"Mr.Solicitor General, we want to make one observation. The investigation started in 2017. They were not arrested during investigation. Normally, arrest is to facilitate investigation. They continue to be as powerful as earlier. Why arrest now?", Justice IP Mukerji, the second senior judge of the bench, asked.

Justice Mukerji asked the Solicitor General why the TMC leaders, who have not been arrested during the investigation for over 4 years, should be kept in house-arrest now, when they are required to do public functions during pandemic.


The Solicitor General also wanted the court to impose a condition that the accused persons should not gather a mob or cause public protests if they are asked to appear for investigation or trial.

Senior Advocate Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the accused, opposed this.

"As regards the condition of mob gathering, if this court orders that, it will be presumed that they had gathered mob. It is like asking have you stopped beating your wife. These kind of submissions are made only for the press, to humiliate them", Dr.Singhvi said.

Senior Advocate Sidharth Luthra, also appearing for the accused, suggested that they can be asked to appear for investigation through VC.

Senior Advocate Kalyan Bandopadhyay, another counsel appearing for the accused, said that he has raised preliminary objections to the maintainability of the petition filed by the CBI - which seeks transfer of the case from the trial court and declaration that the bail hearing was vitiated due to mob pressure. The bench told him that all issues are left open.

The bench will continue the hearing of the main matter on Monday, May 31, at 12 noon.

Background

The arrested TMC leaders, two of them Ministers in the newly elected Mamata Banerjee-led government, and one of them an MLA, have been under judicial custody since May 17. On May 19, a division bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Arijit Banerjee had allowed them to be placed under house arrest, after the judges delivered a split verdict on grant of interim-bail to them.

On May 17, the Division Bench had stayed the bail granted by the Special CBI Court at Kokata to four Trinamool Congress leaders - Firhad Hakim, Madan Mitra, Subrata Mukherjee and Sovan Chatterjee - who were arrested dramatically by CBI on May 17.

The bench passed the stay order after a dramatic late-night hearing held on the basis of a letter sent by the CBI seeking transfer of the case to the High Court citing "unprecedented mob pressure" exerted on the lower court by the mass protests led by Chief Minister and the Law Minister against the arrests of the TMC leaders.

"Public trust and confidence in the judicial system is more important, it being the last resort. They may have a feeling that it is not the rule of law that prevails but it is a mob that has an upper hand and especially in a case where it is led by the Chief Minister of the State in the office of CBI and by the Law Minister of the State in the Court Complex", the division bench said in the order.

On 21st May, following a split in the Calcutta High Court Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Arijit Banerjee the matter was referred to a larger Bench.

Justice Banerjee had passed an order allowing interim bail, while ACJ Bindal had disagreed and stated that the four arrested TMC leaders must be kept in house arrest, which led to the reference. Accordingly, for the timebeing, the accused were directed to be kept under house arrest and were permitted to access files, meet officials through video-conferencing so as to allow them to discharge their functions.

The Bench had rejected the request made by the CBI to stay the order for house arrest. It had also declined the requests made by the TMC leaders' counsels for their release on interim bail.

The CBI had approached the Supreme Court challenging the order allowing house arrest. However, after adverse observations from the Supreme Court, the central agency chose to withdraw its petition from the Supreme Court on May 25.

Click here to read/download the order









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