West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar has sanctioned the prosecution of former ministers and TMC top brass Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, Madan Mitra and Sovan Chatterjee in the Narada scam being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
“After taking note of media reports that Governor of the State of West Bengal Jagdeep Dhankhar has accorded sanction for prosecution in respect of persons who happened to be members of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly, it is made categorically apparent that Governor of the State of West Bengal Jagdeep Dhankhar accorded sanction for prosecution in respect of Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, Madan Mitra and Sovan Chatterjee, for the reason that all of them at the relevant time of commission of crime were holding the position of Ministers in the Government of West Bengal,” the Raj Bhavan said in a release on Sunday.
According to Raj Bhavan, CBI had made a request to the West Bengal Governor and provided all the documentation pertinent to the case.
“Governor is the competent authority to accord sanction in terms of law as he happens to be the appointing authority for such Ministers in terms of Article 164 of the Constitution. The sanction came to be accorded by the Governor after CBI had made a request and made available entire documentation relevant to the case to the Governor and he invoked his powers under Articles 163 and 164 of the Constitution, being the competent authority to accord such sanction,” it added.
Raj Bhavan further refuted the news reports that the sanction has been accorded with “political premeditation” as the four TMC leaders have been elected to the current state Legislative Assembly.
“The impression generated in some quarters of the media that sanction has come to be accorded because these persons at the relevant time were Members of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly is factually untenable. The premise of the sanction as indicated is that these persons at the relevant point of time of commission of crime were holding the position of Ministers in the Government of West Bengal,” said the Raj Bhavan.
The development comes just a day ahead when two of the four former ministers are going to take oath as ministers in the new West Bengal cabinet in the presence of the Governor himself on Monday. Subrata Mukherjee and Firhad Hakim are among the 43 names of ministers that were released on Sunday by the TMC.
The Narada scam made national headlines in 2014 when Journalist Matthew Samuel conducted a sting operation in Kolkata. In the purported sting operation video, TMC leaders were seen taking money. A police officer was also seen in the video.
According to CBI sources, permission was sought from the Governor to file a chargesheet under Section 6 of the Anti-Corruption Act against the four ministers. Finally, Dhankhar has given his consent