TT, Calcutta, June 20: Chief Justice Manjula Chellur today wondered how the state government could order a probe into the purported Narada sting when a case related to it was pending in court.
“When the matter is pending before this court, how can your government order a police inquiry into the matter?” Justice Chellur asked government pleader Abhratosh Majumdar.
Majumdar replied he did not have any “instruction” from the government about this and sought time.
The division bench of Chief Justice Chellur and Justice Arijit Banerjee said it would resume the hearing on June 24 and directed Majumdar to take instructions from the government in the interim.
It was senior lawyer Bikash Bhattacharyya who had informed the court that a police inquiry had been ordered into the purported sting.
Bhattacharyya was appearing for petitioner Amitava Chakrabarti, who has sought a CBI probe into the Narada controversy.
“This court is already hearing a case on the Narada sting operation and has sent the video footage (for forensic tests) to find out if it is doctored,” Bhattacharyya said.
“But chief minister Mamata Banerjee has ordered an inquiry into the same issue. Chief secretary Basudeb Banerjee announced it before the media. It is a clear intervention into the court’s affair and this court should take suo motu action against the government.”
Mamata had on Friday announced a government probe into the “conspiracy” behind the “sting operation”, describing it as an “attempt to create a negative impact on the minds of voters”.
At a Trinamul programme a day later, she said: “From Saradha to Narada, the Trinamul Congress has not taken a single paisa from anybody.”
The Narada tapes show images resembling some Trinamul leaders either accepting cash from a journalist posing as an agent of a fictitious company or directing him to places or persons with whom the money should be deposited.
After Bhattacharyya told the bench about the chief minister’s probe order, Chief Justice Chellur asked whether the government lawyer was present in the court.
Asked how the government could order the probe, Majumdar stood up and said: “I am hearing about the matter now. I have no instruction from the government yet.”
After the chief justice said the bench would hear the case on Friday, Bhattacharyya pleaded for an interim order preventing the government from proceeding with the probe till then.
Chief Justice Chellur said: “Everything will depend on the hearing of the case here. When the matter is pending in court, it may set aside the government’s decision.”
The government pleader said the state would abide by the court’s directive.
Asked about the government probe later in the evening, Justice Asok Ganguly, a former Supreme Court judge, told The Telegraph: “It is very improper for a government to order such a probe. Is the government trying to steal a march over the court when the court has taken cognisance in a matter?”
He added: “When the case items involved are in control of the judiciary, a government cannot issue such an order. It amounts to interference into the court’s affair.”