TMC Ministers from Mamta cabinet facing prosecution sworn in

Two of the four former ministers of the Mamata Banerjee ministry took oath on Monday – hours after Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar accorded sanction for prosecution to the CBI in the alleged Narada sting tapes cases where several politicians and a high-ranked police officer accepting cash bribes in exchange for providing unofficial favours to a company.

The sanction attracted controversy after Dhankhar, on a request by the CBI, sanctioned the prosecution of Firhad Hakim, Subrata Mukherjee, Madan Mitra and Sovan Chatterjee, all of them ministers during the time of the alleged commission of a crime that came to light in the purported Narada sting tapes. Subrata Mukherjee and Firhad Hakim have been sworn in as cabinet ministers in the newly formed Mamata Banerjee government. Another accused Madan Mitra has won the election and Sovon Chatterjee has left the TMC to join the BJP and then left the BJP too following differences with the party leadership.

“I accorded sanction for prosecution because the CBI sought the same. I went through the documentation. There seems to be some confusion regarding some reports created by the media that the governor has accorded sanctions for the members of the assembly. I am not on that. Those people whose sanctions were accorded at the relevant time as per CBI for holding the positions of ministers,” Dhankhar told the media after the oath taking ceremony in Raj Bhawan on Monday.

“The governor of the state if they appoint you as the authority of a minister in terms of article 164 of the constitution and when exercises such power as competent authority in terms of law then in view of Article 163 of the constitution, he is not required to consult anyone. That lies in his own discretion without any aid or assistance. The issue is settled firmly and finally by the highest court of the state,” he added.

“I may indicate to the media that a plea for sanction was made a little before MCC came into being. I thought it as an act of propriety that at that point of time I should not be giving attention to the matter. The moment the poll process was over, the matter engaged my attention because such issues should not be delayed and so I acted and you know the results,” he said.

“As coming to issues on people taking oath in respect of whom sanctions for prosecution has been afforded is a matter of propriety to be taken not by those who make a request to the governor to appoint them. I leave the matter here,” he added.

Speaking on the post-poll violence in the state, Dhankhar said, “If you see my tweets from May 2, I have been in touch with the chief minister. I expressed my deep anguish and concern. The stance taken by the hon’ble chief minister that law and order was under the Election Commission of India. I conveyed to her that she could not have been more wrong. Model Code of Conduct came to an end on May 3rd. During the day and then on she had all the powers and obligation, authorities and duties that she had when she was elected a chief minister in 2016. This answer was not available to her”.

“I asked her several times to send toughest message to the police and administration that if there is violence in that area, rape in that area, loot and arson in that area they will be squarely held accountable,” he added.

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