The 53-page charge-sheet submitted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the Narada case reveals that the agency got sanctions for prosecution against the accused from the West Bengal Governor and the Union Home Ministry within a day of each other on May 7 and May 8, soon after the West Bengal results saw Mamata Banerjee getting a third term.
The CBI has, however, given no clean chit yet to BJP leaders Mukul Roy and Suvendu Adhikari in the case and has clearly said it is continuing its probe against them. News18 has accessed a copy of the charge-sheet submitted by the premier investigating agency in a Kolkata court two days ago, which reveals intriguing missing pieces in the case like the voice sample reports of the accused being still pending with FSL, Gandhinagar for almost two years.
It reveals that CBI sought sanction for prosecution this January from the West Bengal Governor against TMC Ministers Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee and former ministers Madan Mitra and Sovan Chatterjee, and the same was granted on May 7 by the Governor. CBI had also sought sanction from the Union Home Ministry on October 9, 2019 to prosecute IPS officer Syed Md Hussain Meerza in this case.
The charge-sheet reveals the sanction for Meerza was finally granted by Union Home Ministry on May 8 this year, after 19 months. Meerza had been earlier arrested in the case by CBI and is now out on bail. The CBI charge-sheet was filed against all the five accused. The MHA sanction order dated May 8 says it referred the case of Meerza to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) on December 18, 2019 for their advice and the CVC advised MHA for grant of prosecution sanction on May 8, 2021. The Home Ministry granted the sanction the same day.
The West Bengal election results came on May 2 in which Banerjee came up with a resounding victory. The Trinamool Congress has termed the prosecution sanctions and the resultant CBI action to arrest and charge-sheet its leaders as a fall-out of BJP’s leadership inability to stomach the election loss and has alleged the misuse of CBI for political vendetta.
The charge-sheet, however, does not give a clean chit to BJP leaders Mukul Roy and Suvendu Adhikari or TMC MPs Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Prasun Banerjee and Sougato Roy, and former TMC MLA Iqbal Ahmed. As reported earlier by News18, the sanction to prosecute the latter four has been pending with the Lok Sabha Speaker for over two years now while CBI has not yet applied for sanction to prosecute former Rajya Sabha MP Mukul Roy or TMC Lok Sabha Apurupa Poddar in the case. CBI in its charge-sheet has said under provisions of CRPC to continue its investigation against all these leaders.
Holes in the Charge-sheet
The forensic reports in the Narada case throw up intriguing points, as per the charge-sheet, which may be used by the accused to question the case against them. It says the video footage of the sting operation, which was analysed by CFSL, Chandigarh, was found to be “unedited/untampered and the recordings were continuous.”
However, the CBI charge-sheet says it is still to get a report from FSL, Gandhinagar since June 8, 2019 (pending for almost 23 months) on voice samples of all the accused in the case.
CBI had collected voice samples of all the accused, including Mukul Roy and Suvendu Adhikari, and sent them to FSL Gandhinagar on June 8, 2019 and September 23, 2019 for comparing the same with voices on the video tape.
“Expert opinion from FSL, Gandhinagar is awaited,” the CBI chargesheet says.
The sting operation was carried out by journalist Mathew Samuel using an I-Phone 4 and he had transferred the video footage onto a pen drive using a laptop.
All these devices were analysed by CFSL Hyderabad, CFSL Chandigarh and FSL, Gandhinagar. “All the three reports have revealed that no files/data is available either in the IPhone or in the Laptop. CFSL, Chandigarh intimated that they were able to extract 47 files out of 73 available in the pen drive.
FSL, Gandhinagar has found that only 9 file names which are available in the pen drive are available in unallocated cluster of the hard files of the laptop. But other than the traces of these files, no video or data about these files are available there,” the CBI charge-sheet says.CBI has, however, cited in its charge-sheet the video-recordings that have captured the five accused presently charge-sheeted, as evidence in the case.