“This is not the subject matter of proceedings before us. The scope of proceedings is unnecessarily being expanded. Question of validity of arrest may arise collaterally but it is not an issue before us,” Justice Mukerji quoted along with Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal, Justices Harish Tandon, Soumen Sen, Arijit Banerjee in the 5 bench judgement of Calcutta High Court for the matter of Narada Bribery Case.
The case facts are Narada news founder Mathew Samuel ran the sting operation in West Bengal for over two years. It was produced in 2014 for the news magazine Tehelka and was published months before the 2016 West Bengal Assembly elections on the private news website Narada News. Samuel was Tehelka’s former managing editor. As part of the scheme, Samuel created a fictitious company called Impex Consultancy Solutions and approached several TMC ministers, MPs, and leaders, asking for favours in exchange for money.
In the 52-hour footage shot by Samuel and his colleague Angel Abraham, former TMC MPs Mukul Roy, Sougata Roy, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Prasun Bannerjee, Suvendu Adhikari, Aparupa Poddar, and Sultan Ahmad (who died in 2017), as well as state ministers Madan Mitra, Subrata Mukherjee, Firhad Hakim, and Iqbal Ahmed, were seen accepting alleged bribes in
IPS HMS Mirza (who has since been suspended) was also seen taking money from Samuel. Shanku Deb Panda, the TMC’s leader, was also seen asking for shares in Samuel’s fictitious company in exchange for promised favours.
Although Mukul Roy is not seen accepting cash in the video, he is seen instructing Samuel to come to his party office with the promised cash. Suvendu Adhikari is now a BJP leader and the state Assembly’s Leader of the Opposition. Sovan Chatterjee joined the BJP in 2019 but left the party earlier this year after being denied a ticket for the Assembly elections. Panda has also joined the BJP.
Samuel claimed that K. D. Singh, TMC Rajya Sabha MP and majority owner of Tehelka, was aware of the operation and funded it. According to Samuel, the operation’s budget was initially set at Rs.2,500,000 but was later increased to Rs.8,000,000. Singh, on the other hand, denied any involvement in the sting.
The state government launched its own investigation, and Samuel was charged under multiple sections of the IPC, including 469 (forgery to harm reputation), 500 (defamation), 120(B) (criminal conspiracy), and so on. The High Court stayed the state investigation indefinitely, stating that the police cannot conduct a concurrent investigation alongside a court-monitored investigation.
The CBI filed a First Information Report against 12 Trinamool leaders for “criminal conspiracy” on April 16, 2017. Following that, the CBI summoned all of the leaders involved to assist with the investigation. They were all charged under Section 120 B of the IPC (criminal conspiracy), Section 13 (2), Section 13 (1D), and Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.