Delhi/Kolkata: In a setback to Trinamool Congress, the Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a Calcutta High Court order asking CBI to probe the Narada sting case.
The court also termed as "most unfortunate" the grounds raised in a separate appeal filed by the Mamata Banerjee-led state government against the High Court order of March 17.
A bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar said that it finds no infirmity with the findings arrived at by the High Court. It, however, extended the time given to the CBI for registration of the FIR in the case from 72 hours to one month.
"We have perused the impugned order in which it emerges that the High Court took into consideration the materials which required holding of preliminary enquiry (PE) at the hands of CBI. We find no infirmity with determinations of the High Court as the rights of petitioners are fully protected. The petitioner will have ample opportunities to assail lodging of the FIR. We are also satisfied with CBI being permitted to carry out its obligation and all inferences and conclusions made in the order may not come in the way of the agency for arriving at its findings," the bench also comprising Justices D Chandrachud and Sanjay Kishan Kaul said, as per PTI.
Appearing for senior TMC leader Suvendu Adhikari and Saugata Roy, senior advocates Kapil Sibal and AM Singhvi said that they were ready for an SIT probe or probe by any other independent agency but the CBI investigation should not be held.
Both the senior counsel cited political rivalry between the TMC and the central government and said that even the petitioners, who had moved the High Court, are BJP members.
Yesterday, the CBI had registered preliminary enquiry in connection with the Narada sting tapes in which several Trinamool Congress leaders were allegedly caught on camera taking money.
The preliminary enquiry (PE) was registered following the directions of a division bench of the Calcutta High Court, comprising of acting Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre and Justice T Chakraborti.
The bench, on March 17, had directed the CBI to register the PE and submit its report before the court.
A preliminary enquiry is the first step of a probe by the CBI where the agency assesses whether the allegations have enough material for registering an FIR. If it finds that prima facie it is crime, the agency registers the FIR.
The agency has also collected documents related to sting operation and examined some leaders, CBI sources had said.
The Narada sting tapes, which were released to different news organisations before the 2016 Assembly elections in West Bengal, showed people resembling senior TMC leaders receiving money allegedly for giving future favours.
The bench had noted that a report by the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), Chandigarh, had said that the tapes were untampered.
Mathew Samuel, editor of Narada News, had told the court that the recordings were done using an iPhone, which were transferred to a laptop and then stored in a pen-drive.
A committee, set by the high court, had taken possession of all the devices.
The court had also observed that CBI was the most suitable agency for conducting an independent probe into the matter.
(With PTI inputs)