As the political slugfest between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal State Chief Mamata Banerjee intensifies, the Calcutta High Court on Wednesday ordered the house arrest of two state ministers, one legislator, and a former mayor.
India's top anti-corruption probe agency – the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) – arrested ministers Firhad Hakim and Subrata Mukharkjee, state legislator Madan Mitra, and former legislator Sovan Chatterjee in the 2016 Narada bribery case.
"All four to remain in house arrest and cooperate with CBI till a larger bench hears the matter," the court ordered. The decision to pass the matter to a larger bench was taken after the two-member division bench was divided over the bail plea.
While Justice Arijit Banerjee was in favour of interim bail, acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal opposed it.
During the hearing, Singhvi urged the bench to consider Hakim's position on the state's Covid-19 management team.
The Trinamool leaders were arrested earlier this week – in the immediate aftermath, Mamata Banerjee rushed to the CBI's office to protest.
The Calcutta High Court upheld the interim bail granted by a Special CBI Court on Monday night. Following the arrest, massive clashes broke out between TMC supporters and security forces outside the agency's office in Kolkata.
The Modi-led BJP government has faced severe criticism from the opposition and public for arresting Hakim amid the deadly second wave of the pandemic.
Modi was also questioned for not slapping sanctions on former TMC minister Suvendu Adhikari and legislator Mukul Roy, who recently joined the BJP.
In retaliation to Modi's bid to destabilise the newly formed state government, Mamata sent the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to knock on the door of Modi's BJP lawmaker Arjun Singh's house in a corruption case. He's been ordered to face interrogation on 25 May.