The Calcutta High Court on Monday constituted a three-member committee to collect video footage of a sting operation in which many leaders of West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) were allegedly shown taking bribes.
The committee comprising an inspector general rank officer of the state police, an official each of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the high court will collect the raw footage of the sting video along with the recording devices from Narada News Editor -in-Chief Mathew Samuel in Delhi.
A bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice A. Banerjee said the committee will decide the time and venue for the handing over of the tapes by Samuel, which in turn will be handed over to the court.
The court earlier directed Samuel to personally hand over the material to the court but the journalist had pleaded his inability to do so, claiming threat to his life.
The high court was hearing three public interest litigations seeking CBI probe as well as criminal action against the leaders and lawmakers seen as taking cash on tape.
The TMC claimed the tapes were “doctored” and has been opposing the CBI probe, contending the sting was a conspiracy hatched by its political opponents.
The news portal had in March released a set of sting videos wherein many TMC leaders, including MPs, legislators and former union ministers, were seen as accepting cash from journalists posing as businessmen.
Samuel welcomed the court’s move.
“From day one onwards, they (TMC) have been saying these tapes are doctored, these tapes are tampered, so, how can I give these tapes to the same guys. They can tamper and doctor the tapes.
“That is the reason, I gave the affidavit to the court that I can hand over the tapes to some independent agency,” Samuel said. He also expressed happiness over the court’s move to include a CBI and high court official in the committee.
He also ridiculed the TMC’s move of announcing an internal probe into the controversy.
“This is nothing but eyewash, what an internal inquiry will do? They have to admit what happened, first they said it’s doctored, then they said it’s donation and now an internal inquiry. Let them accept first what has happened,” added Samuel.