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21 Mar 2017

CBI to lodge Narada FIR

CPM state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra
protests 
outside the CBI office in Calcutta on
Monday. 
Picture by Mayukh Sengupta
TT, March 20: The CBI is preparing to lodge an FIR on the Narada payoffs and start a fresh case based on the findings of its preliminary probe into the sting, sources in the agency said today. 
The CBI, which was given the case by Calcutta High Court on March 17, has studied the tapes - where people resembling several Trinamul leaders and an IPS officer are seen either accepting cash from a journalist posing as the agent of a fictitious company or directing him to people or places where the money had to be deposited - and related documents and questioned witnesses.
Primarily, the CBI has observed that those seen on the tapes were public representatives and cash was transferred against an assurance or promise, senior officers said.
"We will inform the court about our preliminary probe. Our team has examined the material evidence, comprising tapes and videos, which have been declared as genuine by the forensic laboratory. Prima facie, it seems there is a case against the accused persons," a senior CBI officer said.
Transcripts of the audio of the tapes are being prepared and once ready, the preliminary report will be sent to the CBI's Lodhi Road headquarters in New Delhi for its approval.
Officers working on the initial inquiry report said it would be ready by Wednesday in keeping with the high court deadline of 72 hours to finish the preliminary probe.
The CBI has checked with its legal team and the senior officers said the March 17 order of the high court did not make it mandatory for the agency to submit a report. "But in case the court orders so, we will submit one," a CBI source said.
"Usually, we start a case once the preliminary inquiry is over. We want to do the same here.... The primary focus of the investigation will be the criminality under the Indian Penal Code and how the tapes establish it," the source said.
While the decks are being cleared to lodge the FIR, it is not yet clear where the CBI wants to lodge it.
The sources said the CBI was still not clear on why Narada chief editor Mathew Samuel had chosen the politicians whose images are seen on the tapes. CBI sleuths have spoken to Samuel and plan to talk to him "extensively" once the full-fledged probe is launched.
"We will question him to ascertain whether he was acting on behalf of someone. What was the trigger behind conducting the sting?" an officer said.
An officer of the anti-corruption branch said a public servant's act of accepting money other than remuneration was an offence. He said it was also a breach of trust as they were people's representatives.

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