The Supreme Court directed the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) to take action against West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, her ministers or anyone who in the past have attempted to subvert the rule of law. This development comes after the West Bengal governor gave a nod to the CBI to launch a probe into the West Bengal lawmakers who were involved in the Narada Bribery case.
On May 17, the CBI arrested TMC leaders and lawmakers who were the primary accused in the Narada case. After the arrest, West Bengal CM and TMC Supremo Mamata Banerjee challenged CBI to arrest her saying that the CBI made the arrests without due procedures and will have to arrest her also. While the proceedings were taking place, TMC supporters started protesting and laid siege at the CBI office and resorted to stone pelting.
The apex court in its hearing heard CBI’s argument that West Bengal CM Banerjee had taken to its office on May 17 and slammed the agency with defamatory and insulting remarks about the agency. The CM also sat on a ‘dharna’ for 6 hours against CBI. At that time the CBI also had to deal with the unruly supporters of the TMC that caused obstruction in the proceedings as the investigating agency tried to make arrest of those accused in the matter.
The CBI also brought to light the fact that the unruly TMC mob of supporters had surrounded the CBI office at Nizam Palace, pelted stones at the building and made several attempts to shake and stir the agency’s process of law. The matter was heard by the Supreme Court bench that comprised of Justice Vineet Saran and Justice B.R. Gavai. In this matter, the CBI was represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.
“We are not here to advise the government or CBI”: Supreme Court
The Supreme Court after hearing the matter told the Solicitor General that it did not appreciate the code of conduct the CM and her law makers showed by laying siege of CBI office. Further, the bench also noted that it did not approve of the course of action taken by TMC supporters. While the bench suggested the Solicitor General that there are several remedies put in place in the Constitution to handle such situations, it also said that, “We are not here to advise the government or CBI.”
“Proceed against them”: SC tells CBI after making not of Mamata Banerjee’s dharna
The pivotal moment in the hearing came when the top court bench told Solicitor General that the accused persons should not be made to suffer because of CM and Law Minister’s dharna and further directed the CBI to, “proceed against them” if they wish to do so.
Justice Vineet Saran and Justice B.R. Gavai highlighted the fact that it did not appreciate the way West Bengal CM tried to pressurize the investigative agency by sitting on dharnas and noted, “We do not like to mix liberty of citizens with whatever illegal acts of politicians. We will not do that.” The apex court also asked the CBI who is more likely to influence the witnesses, the persons who have no chargesheet against them or those who are in chargesheets.
Supreme Court opposes contention to move matter to different state
In the hearing the CBI also asked the Supreme Court to move the matter to a different state however the bench opposed to the contention with the belief that such action may demoralize the Calcutta High Court. The Supreme Court observed that the matter is currently heard in the Calcutta High Court and a 5-judge bench is involved in the matter. The top court also asked the CBI whether it would like to withdraw its appeal which it made to the Supreme Court.
“Our judiciary is not that weak to be influenced by mob”: SC to Solicitor General
CBI took heed to the question and did in fact withdraw the appeal. Meanwhile Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said, “It is happening periodically in the state that the CM barges into investigating agency office to help the accused”. To this the Supreme Court bench reinstated the fact that the CBI can proceed against the West Bengal CM and law minister if they have taken laws into their hands.
“We do not feel our judiciary is that weak to be influenced by a mob,” the Supreme Court further told Solicitor General Mehta.
This development comes after significant momentum was witnessed in the Narada case. On May 17, the CBI arrested 2 TMC ministers & the present MLA and former Kolkata Municipal Corporation Mayor who were accused in the scam. These individuals are Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, Madan Mitra and Sovan Chatterjee.