I was was their appointing authority: Dhankhar. Only Speaker is competent, says ruling party
West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Sunday said he has accorded sanction to a Central investigating agency for “prosecuting Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, Madan Mitra & Sovan Chatterjee as they were Ministers and he was their appointing authority.
“Governor accorded sanction for prosecution of Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, Madan Mitra & Sovan Chatterjee, being appointing authority of Ministers @MamataOfficial under Article 164 & thus competent authority. Media reports that sanction was for being MLA is incorrect,” Mr. Dhankhar said in a tweet, sharing a detailed press statement issued by the Raj Bhavan.
The matter pertains to the Narada sting videos which is being probed by the CBI. The tapes had come to the fore in 2016 where several Ministers and leaders of the Trinamool Congress were purportedly seen accepting cash on camera. The Governor said the sanction was because they were Ministers and were appointed by the Governor.
Trinamool Congress leader Sukhendu Sekhar Roy differed saying they were MLAs, the sanction should have come from the Speaker.
“We believe that the sanction to a Central investigation agency should come from the Speaker as the leaders were MLAs. However, this is a matter of law and the Courts can deal with it,” the party spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP told The Hindu.
Mr. Roy, however, questioned the timing of the tweet by the Governor and said it comes to the public domain just a day before the Ministers of the TMC government are likely to be sworn in. “We have put it on record in a letter to the President that the conduct of the Governor is partisan and is to further the interests of the BJP. We stick to our stand,” he said.
The press statement by the Raj Bhavan pointed out that the “sanction came to be accorded by the Hon’ble Governor after CBI had made request and made available entire documentation relevant to the case to the Hon’ble Governor and he invoked his powers under Articles 163 and 164 of the Constitution to accord such sanction”.
Four of those mentioned in the communication are key TMC leaders and were elected to the Assembly. Mr. Chatterjee has since defected to the BJP. Several prominent leaders of the TMC were seen in the purported Narada tapes including Suvendu Adhikari who is now a key BJP leader.