The Calcutta High Court on Friday allowed the CBI to carry on with its probe into the Narada sting video footage case and directed accused Aparupa Poddar – a Trinamool Congress Lok Sabha member – to extend all cooperation to the agency.
A single judge bench of Justice Joymalyo Bagchi gave the directive on a petition moved by Poddar seeking quashing of the FIR filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against her under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Her lawyer prayed before the court that Poddar could not brought under the purview of the said Act as she was not a people's representative when the video footage was recorded.
The counsel in his submission referred to Narada News Portal CEO Mathew Samuels' claim that he had recorded the footage in April 2014. The results of the Lok Sabha polls were declared a month later, when Poddar won her maiden Lok Sabha election from Arambagh, he argued.
The judge asked the CBI to submit to the court all relevant records related to its probe on the next hearing on May 10.
Poddar has to extend all cooperation to the probe, Justice Bagchi said.
The controversy erupted in assembly election-bound West Bengal in March last year when Narada News portal uploaded video footage purportedly showing the Trinamool leaders receiving money in exchange of favours to a fictitious company.
The Calcutta High Court ordered a CBI preliminary inquiry into the case exactly on March 17, and asked the federal investigation agency to submit the report within 72 hours.
The Trinamool Congress appealed to the Supreme Court on March 21, challenging the High Court' order, but the apex court refused to interfere with the order though it extended the deadline for the preliminary probe to one month.
On April 17, the CBI filed an FIR against a dozen senior Trinamool including former and current state ministers, MPs, and an MLA, besides IPS officer S.M.H. Mirza.
Among those whose names figure in the FIR are Trinamool Vice President and Rajya Sabha member Mukul Roy, Lok Sabha members Sougata Roy, Sultan Ahmed, Kakali Ghosh Dastidar, Poddar and Prasun Banerjee.
Also featuring in the list are state ministers Subrata Mukherjee, Firhad Hakim, Suvendu Adhikari, city mayor and state minister Sovan Chatterjee, legislator Iqbal Ahmed and former minister Madan Mitra.
The accused have been charged with criminal conspiracy and under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.