HC orders CBI probe into Bengal's Narada sting op

The Calcutta High Court on Friday ordered a preliminary Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the leaked tapes of the Narada sting operation in which several Trinamool ministers and MPs and an Indian Police Service officer were shown taking money.

The order drew a sharp response from chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who indicated that her party and the state would battle out the case both politically and legally, with the West Bengal government moving the Supreme Court against the HC order.

A division bench of acting Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre and Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty directed the CBI to take possession of all material evidence and devices related to the sting within 24 hours and complete the preliminary probe in 72 more hours. The CBI has to file an FIR and initiate a formal probe, if required, after the initial inquiry.

The HC directed the state to initiate disciplinary proceedings against IPS officer S M H Meerza within a week and consider suspending him in accordance with rules.

Banerjee said this wasn't a "big issue" as the state had initiated such proceedings against officers earlier.

The CBI may take over the records from the HC registrar general on Saturday and decide whether or not to file an FIR by Monday as the HC refused to give any stay on its order.

"This is unfortunate. We had initiated an inquiry. The HC stopped it within 24 hours. I have full respect for the judiciary but the fact remains that the order is the same as what a BJP leader had anticipated weeks ago. How can a party (BJP) president declare that the CBI would investigate this after the UP polls? This sting operation was first aired from the BJP party office," Banerjee said.