TT, Calcutta, April 19: Chief Justice Manjula Chellur of Calcutta High Court, who today received video footage of the Narada sting operation showing people resembling senior Trinamul leaders allegedly taking wads of cash, said it would be “dangerous for society” if it was proved that public representatives were guilty.
“If it is proved that representatives of the common people, whom they had taken into their trust and confidence, are guilty, it will be dangerous for the society,” Justice Chellur said while hearing two petitions seeking a CBI probe into the veracity of the Narada tapes and penal action against the guilty.
The chief justice added: “Also if it is proved that the footage is not genuine, then penal action should be taken against those who are behind the operation as it will also have an impact on society.”
Justice Chellur’s statement, in which she said hearing of the case should proceed swiftly, came in response to the appeal of the counsel for the accused Trinamul leaders seeking adjournment of the hearing till after the elections.
The Narada scandal broke on March 14, when television screens were filled with images resembling Mamata’s key aides taking wads of cash or directing the agent of a fictitious company who the money should be handed over to. Six of these Trinamul leaders are contesting the ongoing Assembly elections.
Two public interest litigation petitions – one by state Congress general secretary Amitava Chakrabarty and another by social worker Akshoy Sarengi – seeking a CBI probe into the tapes were filed before the high court on March 19.
Trinamul MP and senior advocate Kalyan Banerjee, representing the accused party leaders, said today: “The bench should consider that the video footage was made public during a period when there was a political event (elections) in the state. So the bench should not make any hurry and pass any order, which may affect the political event.”
Justice Chellur responded: “Your request for adjourning the hearing is creating an adverse effect in the minds of the common people. For the sake of the greater interest of the people, the case should be resolved as immediately as possible.”
The judge set April 27 as the next date of hearing. The election process ends on May 19, when the results will be announced.
Earlier in the day, the court-appointed three-member committee to help in the proceedings handed over an iPhone containing the Narada sting footage, a CD and a pen drive before the division bench of Chief Justice Chellur and Justice Arijit Banerjee.
The division bench asked the committee to deposit the items in a locker of a nationalised bank, the name of which would not be disclosed till further orders.
After a brief discussion with her fellow judge, the chief justice said: “For the greater interest of the common public, the iPhone, CD and the pen drive would have to be tested at a reputed laboratory to determine whether they are genuine.”
In response to an order of the bench, Mathew Samuel, the chief editor of Narada News that conducted the sting, today filed a fresh affidavit informing the court about the details of his company as well as those who had helped him in the operation. In his first affidavit he had failed to do so.
The counsel appearing for the accused Trinamul leaders asked to be allowed to file an affidavit to counter the one submitted by Samuel today, saying sufficient information about the operation had not been given in the earlier affidavit. The division bench allowed their plea.