Narada: Can’t shut our eyes to CM putting pressure on system, CBI tells Cal HC
Kolkata, June 03: The CBI has told the Calcutta High Court that the lower court proceedings in connection with the Narada sting case were vitiated by external actions. It also contended that in a criminal trial, perception is significatnt.
The CBI also submitted a supplementary affidavit and gave a detailed timeline of the May 17 incident when the agency arrested two TMC ministers, a TMC MLA and a former mayor of Kolkata, which le to protest by the workers of the party outside the CBI's office in Kolkata.
"The Hon'ble CM, Mamata Banerjee entered the office of CBI at Nizam Palace, followed by Kalyan Bandhopadhyay and others. The Chief Minister remained seated in the chamber adjoining to the chamber of DIG/HOB for more than six hours along with the arrested accused persons, lawyers and politicians," the CBI said it its affidavit.
"In this country, we cannot shut our eyes to the fact the chief minister, the entire cabinet is coming out in support of accused and putting pressure on the system," Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court.
"It is the proceedings being vitiated due to external actions of others. In a criminal trial, perception is significant. The appearance of injustice is denial of justice."
"Let us accept your submission that a reasonable man gets a perception that there was bias due to external events. But who according to you is a reasonable man and what led to such a person to get that perception? Those are questions of fact. Would you be able to establish these before this five-judge bench," Justice J P Mukherjee asked Mehta.
"Let me tell you what is troubling me. We have always deprecated media trial. But public perception of conduct of the trial in a case where the order of special court otherwise seem to survive. That order has also not yet been challenged. Will public perception override all other considerations? Suppose there is a media trial and is asking for conviction, but the court finally acquits him, then should public perception override the verdict," Justice Soumen said.
To this Mehta replied, 'absolutely not. I am not relying on a media reports to establish the perception element. I am relying on media reports to show the fact that the CM was in the CBI office and the law minister at the court complex.
To this Justice Harish Tandon asked, " hypothetically let us say bail application was rejected despite such external actions, then will the trial be vitiated." The court had granted interim bail to all four accused arrested by the CBI.