|Congress protesters outside Raj Bhavan. (Bibhash Lodh)|
TT, Calcutta, March 18: The CBI today collected devices containing footage of the Narada sting from a nationalised bank, a day after Calcutta High Court handed over the case to the central agency and gave it 72 hours to complete the preliminary probe.
The court had also directed the CBI to take custody of the case-related documents within 24 hours.
A team of eight officers led by Nagendra Prasad, the superintendent of the CBI's anti-corruption branch, reached the bank's Strand Road branch around 11 this morning and collected the tapes, pen drives and a few other devices from a locker.
The tapes contain footage of people resembling several Trinamul Congress leaders and an IPS officer either accepting wads of cash from a journalist posing as the agent of a fictitious company or directing him to people or places where the money should be deposited.
|CBI officers at the Strand Road branch of the |
nationalised bank on Saturday. Pic: Pradip Sanyal
Armed with the tapes and the gadgets, the CBI team went to the high court and listed the seized documents with an official before going to the agency's office on AJC Bose Road to study the contents.
"We will need some time before we are done with all the tapes," a CBI source said. "The conversations (on the tapes) need to be carefully heard and we need to do the transcriptions," he added.
Apart from gathering all case-related documents within 24 hours, the division bench of acting Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre and Justice Tapobrata Chakraborty has also directed the CBI to conduct the preliminary investigation within 72 hours and ascertain whether a fresh case needed to be filed. The court had also directed the Bengal government to launch within seven days departmental proceedings against IPS officer Meerza. The state has been asked to "consider suspending" him in consonance with the service rules.
CBI sources said that over the next 24 hours, officers going through the tapes would first ascertain if a cognisable offence had been committed under Indian Penal Code sections dealing with corruption. This is important because if the court gives the clearance to the CBI, the agency would have to start by lodging a case at a police station.
"In the preliminary inquiry report that we will submit before the court, we will mention our initial observations with explanations," an officer said.
"The investigating agency will have the right to arrest those it names in its FIR, if any. However, arrest is not mandatory," a source said.
The sources said the investigation would take time because of the considerable number of respondents and the case's intricacies. Since a major part of the probe will revolve around the tapes, the CBI will seek the report submitted to the high court by the central forensic science laboratory in Chandigarh.
A team of CBI officers will visit Asansol soon in connection with its probe into the murder of Arpan Mukherjee, the son of former CPM legislator Bamapada Mukherjee.
On May 10, 2012, Arpan was shot dead when he was out for a morning walk in Asansol town.
Yesterday, the high court handed over the probe to the CBI.