The Supreme Court on Friday stayed a Calcutta High Court order refusing to take on record affidavits filed by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and others in connection with the Narada case.
The court directed Ms Banerjee – and the Bengal government and Law Minister Moloy Ghatak – to file fresh pleas asking the High Court to reconsider taking the affidavits on record.
The High Court has been asked to decide on the fresh pleas – and accepting the affidavits – at the next scheduled hearing date – June 29.
The orders from the Supreme Court came after two judges – Justices Aniruddha Bose and Indira Banerjee – recused themselves from hearing this case. Last week Justice Banerjee also opted out of a separate case related to post-poll violence in parts of Bengal.
The case was reassigned to Justice Vineet Saran and rescheduled to today; “This is a new case… We have not yet read the file. So let us have it on Friday,” Justice Saran had said.
On June 9 a five-judge bench of the Calcutta High Court, led by Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal, declined to accept the affidavits filed by Ms Banerjee and Mr Ghatak.
Senior advocates Rakesh Dwivedi and Vikas Singh, appearing for Mr Ghatak and the Bengal government, said the affidavits had to be on record as they dealt with roles of concerned persons.
The High Court said Ms Banerjee and Mr Ghatak took the risk of not filing the affidavits at the right time; “cannot now be allowed to file the affidavits at their own whims and fancies,” it said.
The affidavits contained Ms Banerjee and Mr Ghatak’s version of events on May 17, when the Central Bureau of Investigation arrested three Trinamool Congress leaders, including two ministers, and an ex-MLA of the ruling party in connection with the Narada case.
The arrests were followed by a furious Mamata Banerjee camping outside the agency’s office for six hours; at the same time a large crowd of Trinamool supporters gathered and protested outside the building, throwing stones and trying to break barricades.
Citing the protests – which it called “mobocracy” – the CBI had asked for the Narada case hearing to be transferred out of the state.
Ms Banerjee and Mr Ghatak’s affidavits were meant to counter the CBI’s transfer request.
The Narada case involves a 2014 sting op by a journalist who posed as a businessman planning to invest in Bengal. He gave wads of cash to seven Trinamool MPs, four ministers, one MLA and a police officer as bribes and taped the entire exchange.
The tapes were released just before the 2016 Assembly election.