West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar has given the CBI permission to prosecute Trinamool Congress leaders Sovan Chatterjee, Firhad Hakim, Madan Mitra and Subrata Mukherjee. This comes less than 24 h before Subrata Mukherjee and Firhad Hakim are to be sworn in as ministers in West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s cabinet.
Subrata Mukherjee was elected the Protem Speaker of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly on May 6. On the other hand, Sovan Chatterjee, who quit the Trinamool Congress to join the BJP in the run-up to the recently concluded West Bengal Assembly polls, parted ways with the Bharatiya Janata Party after the declaration of the candidates’ list.
The CBI had in January sought sanction from the Governor to prosecute the four leaders in the Narada case. Three of these leaders were ministers in the state cabinet at the time, while Madan Mitra was Sports and Transport minister between 2011 and 2015.
A statement issued by Raj Bhavan said, “Governor of West Bengal Jagdeep Dhankar accorded sanction for prosecution in respect of Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, Madan Mitra and Sovan Chatterjee, for the reason that all of them at the relevant time of commission of crime were holding the position of ministers in the government of West Bengal.”
The statement further reads, “CBI had made a request and made available entire documentation relevant to the case to the governor and he invoked his power under articles 163 and 164 of the Constitution, being the competent authority to accord sanction.”
CBI probes Narada sting operation
The case dates back to a series of sting operations conducted by Narada news in West Bengal. Footage of these sting operations, showing 12 Trinamool Congress politicians and ministers taking bribes, was released ahead of the assembly elections in 2016.
Among the leaders caught on camera were Subrata Mukherjee, Sovon Chatterjee, Madan Mitra and Firhad Hakim.BJP leaders Mukul Roy and Suvendu Adhikari, who were in the Trinamool Congress at the time, were also seen accepting money in exchange for favours on the ‘Narada tapes’.
The Calcutta High C ourt ordered a preliminary probe by the CBI in the sting operation case in March of 2017.
In August of last year, Trinamool MP Aparupa Poddar had submitted documents to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the Narada tapes scam in which she was also one of the accused.