CBI to probe Trinamool leaders for ‘habitual acceptance of illegal gratification’
By Rob 0
Kolkata: A day after filing the first information report, or FIR, in the Narada News case, a team of sleuths from the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) Delhi office arrived in Kolkata on Tuesday, looking to probe the personal wealth of at least 12 top Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders who are alleged to have accepted “illegal gratification”.
On Monday, the CBI filed the FIR to launch an investigation of these leaders under several sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal Code. The CBI has said in its FIR—a copy of which was reviewed by Mint—that it is looking to investigate them for “habitual acceptance of illegal gratification”.
“The probe will not remain confined to the few lakh rupees that each of these leaders were seen receiving in Narada News’ video footage,” said a key CBI officer in Kolkata, who asked not to be identified, referring to a television sting. The scope of this investigation is likely to be expanded to examine if these leaders have amassed assets disproportionate to their known sources of income, he added.
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Partha Chatterjee, a cabinet minister in West Bengal and a spokesperson for the Trinamool Congress, said on Tuesday that the party will legally challenge the investigation. The party had earlier said that the sting operation was politically motivated.
The Calcutta high court had last month ordered the CBI to start investigating political leaders shown taking cash in a sting operation conducted by Narada News, a portal. Most of those facing investigation are members of Parliament and cabinet ministers in West Bengal.
The Calcutta high court’s verdict was upheld by the Supreme Court.
The video footage, which dates back to 2014, was released last year ahead of the assembly election in West Bengal. Mathew Samuel, managing director of Narada News, had earlier said that he had conducted the sting operation in April-May 2014 to expose corruption in the Trinamool Congress party.
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CBI officers in Kolkata said the agency had conducted a preliminary inquiry for a month and going forward it is looking to dig into the finances and assets of not only the 13 persons named in the FIR, but also several others whose names have been mentioned in the video recording.
Other arms of the government such as the income tax department have also been gathering information about some of these leaders, and the CBI is likely to seek assistance from them, these officers added, asking not to be named.
First Published: Tue, Apr 18 2017. 08 29 PM IST