Supreme Court annuls Calcutta High Court order refusing to consider affidavits filed by West Bengal Chief Minister, Law Minister Moloy Ghatak and the State government.
The Supreme Court on Friday annulled a Calcutta High Court order of June 9 refusing to consider affidavits filed by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Law Minister Moloy Ghatak and West Bengal government countering allegations about their role on the day of the arrest of four TMC leaders by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the Narada sting tape case.
A Vacation Bench of Justices Vineet Saran and Dinesh Maheshwari allowed the Chief Minister, Mr. Ghatak and the State government to apply to the High Court again for permission to file their affidavits. The Supreme Court requested the High Court to consider their applications afresh on June 29, the next date of hearing.
The Bench asked the High Court to consider their applications first before going further into the merits of the case.
The Supreme Court did not get into the merits of the case, but went to the extent of opining that the petitioners (Chief Minister, Mr. Ghatak and the State government) ought to have first applied to the Calcutta High Court, urging it to take their counter-affidavits on record, “especially when the arguments were going on [in the Narada case] and had progressed substantially”.
The CBI had objected to the filing of the counter affidavits by the petitioners and argued that the High Court’s June 9 order was fully justified. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had argued that the petitioners had “fully participated” in the hearings and they had “waived their right” to file their replies.
Senior advocates Rakesh Dwivedi and Vikas Singh, for the petitioners, said the High Court, instead of refusing the affidavits, should have taken them on record in the normal course of the hearings. Mr. Singh said the CBI did not have to file an application before submitting its affidavits.
Mr. Dwivedi said the affidavits were “essential” to the case and provided the truth about the events of May 17, the day of the arrest of the four TMC leaders.
The separate plea by Ms. Banerjee in the Supreme Court contended that the CBI was trying to malign the State Ministers without any proof to substantiate its allegations against them. She said it was essential to allow her to file an affidavit to counter the agency’s claims that she “terrorised” them by protesting outside their office.
Mr. Dwivedi had countered CBI’s claims that Mr. Ghatak was present in the courtroom with a mob when the four TMC leaders were produced after their arrest. The senior advocate said the Minister was in an official meeting at the time. Even the CBI officials were not present at the spot as the hearing was held virtually.