A five-judge bench of Calcutta Excessive Court docket, by its order of Might 28, granted interim bail to 4 Trinamool Congress leaders topic to sure situations. Two are ministers in Mamata Banerjee’s authorities, whereas one is an MLA, and one other a former Kolkata mayor. All 4 had been arrested by the CBI on Might 17 in the Narada scam case. The order got here to be handed after many twists and turns. Sadly, not one of the events involved in the matter has covered itself with glory.
The incident in which the accused are allegedly involved dates again to 2014 when a journalist, Mathew Samuel, carried out a sting operation posing as a businessman, and allegedly lured them into accepting bribes of Rs 4 lakh to five lakh. The entire episode caught on digicam allegedly revealed that not solely these 4, however many others, together with Suvendu Adhikari and Mukul Roy, who later left TMC and joined the BJP, had been additionally involved. In 2017, the matter reached Calcutta HC which ordered a CBI enquiry, ensuing in registration of FIR. The matter appears to have remained in limbo until the CBI awakened from its slumber on Might 17, and arrested the above named accused.
Within the interregnum, a lot water had flown underneath the bridge. The West Bengal authorities accomplished its time period and meeting election in the state was fought with ferocity. The BJP fielded its high leaders however didn’t wrest energy. This was an enormous setback for the BJP. Many imagine this as the only motive for the CBI going after the accused.
For lengthy, the credibility of the CBI has been operating low. It’s seen as an instrument of the state, regardless of which social gathering is in energy. Given the bitterness with which the election was fought, and that quickly after the election, the CBI went knocking on the doorways of the accused, will probably be naive to imagine that its actions had been solely a step taken in direction of the trial of the case, and that it was not performing on the behest of its political masters.
If this certainly was not the case, CBI wants to clarify how the 4 accused, roaming free for the final a number of years, all of a sudden turned a menace to a free and truthful trial necessitating their arrest, extra so, when some others equally positioned, however in opposition now, are nonetheless at massive.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on coming to know of the arrests acquired so enraged that she staged a dharna on the CBI workplace, daring the officers to arrest her too, although it might have been way more befitting for her to take recourse to authorized cures.
The CBI choose earlier than whom the accused had been produced just about granted interim bail to the accused. However the CBI rushed to the Excessive Court docket looking for switch of the case, and likewise pleaded that the proceedings earlier than the CBI choose be declared non-est as they had been vitiated on account of dharna and slogan shouting.
It’s an elementary precept of felony jurisprudence that when bail has been granted by a reliable court docket, the one method to negate it’s by submitting an utility for cancellation earlier than the identical court docket or the next court docket. The CBI, ignoring this authorized strategy, merely despatched a communication to the Excessive Court docket, which the performing Chief Justice in a late-night sitting handled as a writ petition and stayed the bail order, as if the accused had dedicated such a heinous crime that the matter couldn’t wait until the subsequent morning.
The matter was subsequent taken up on Might 19 by a bench headed by the performing Chief Justice. The Chief Justice favoured conserving the accused individuals underneath home arrest, however the different choose was in favour of granting bail. Usually, if there’s a distinction of opinion between two judges, the matter is referred to a 3rd choose whose opinion prevails. However the Chief Justice selected to not refer the matter to the third choose. The accused remained underneath home arrest. The CBI went to the Supreme Court docket towards the stated order, however discovering that the SC was not inclined to remain or reverse the identical, it withdrew the petition.
In the meantime, the performing Chief Justice constituted a bench of 5 judges to listen to the matter. With the best of respect to the Chief Justice, could one ask what was the massive constitutional situation involved in this matter? Think about how the accused had been made to undergo in a easy matter when bail and never jail is the rule.
The most recent twist is a letter from a senior choose of the identical Excessive Court docket addressed to the Chief Justice and his fellow judges. As per him, the communication of the CBI couldn’t be handled as a writ petition, and that the mob presence generally is a floor for adjudication on deserves of the CBI choose’s order, however it doesn’t empower the division bench to take up the matter. Questioning the convening of a five-judge bench, he has written that such a bench is constituted when the view of a division bench is inconsistent with the view of one other division bench. Lastly, he wrote: “Our conduct is unbecoming of the majesty the Excessive Court docket instructions. We have been lowered to a mockery”. These are robust phrases.
Courts ought to act as a protect towards the tyranny of the state. Within the phrases of Lord Mansfield, “Let justice be carried out although the heavens fall.” Sure, bail has been granted, however at what value?
The author is a former choose of the Delhi Excessive Court docket