Centre vs Mamata: Kolkata top cop can’t be arrested but must appear before CBI, says Supreme Court

FEBRUARY 5, 2019

– The SC directed Commissioner Rajeev Kumar to appear before CBI for questioning at a neutral place in Shillong
– The court added that the probe agency cannot arrest commissioner Kumar
– The CBI had on Monday filed the contempt plea in the top court against the chief secretary of WB, the DGP and the commissioner Kumar

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar to make himself available before the CBI and “faithfully” cooperate with the agency in investigation of cases arising out of the Saradha chit fund scam probe. The apex court said Kumar will appear before the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for investigation at Shillong in Meghalaya.
The three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said that commissioner Kumar must appear before the CBI but the central agency can’t arrest him.

The court said that though it has dispensed with the personal appearance of the three — the chief secretary, DGP and Kumar it will take a call on their personal presence in court after perusing their responses during February 20 hearing.
The court also directed West Bengal chief secretary and DGP to reply to contempt petition filed by CBI by February 18.

Shortly after the Supreme Court’s order, Mamata Banerjee said that commissioner Kumar never excused himself from participating in the probe. “He (Kumar) said we want to meet at mutual place,if you want to ask for any clarification, you can come and we can sit,” the West Bengal chief minister was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

She also said that the court’s order will strengthen the moral of the officers.
“They wanted to arrest him. They went to his house on a secret operation without any notice on Sunday. We are obliged that the court said ‘no arrest’,” she added.

On Monday, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna had agreed to hear the plea on Tuesday against Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar and others for alleged non-cooperation in Saradha chit fund scam case. The bench had also instructed the probe agency to place before it all evidence by means of an affidavit.

Today, in an affidavit submitted before the top court, the probe agency alleged that there are several incriminating material/correspondence that was collected during the investigation by the CBI against the senior police officials as well as senior politicians.

The agency also alleged that investigating officers in West Bengal police who were working under commissioner Rajeev Kumar had handed over crucial evidence to the main accused. Kumar was heading the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the Saradha chit fund scam.

The CBI alleged that the handing over of the evidence clearly shows connivance of SIT to a larger conspiracy wherein local authorities obstructed probe and attempted to destroy evidence prior to transfer of the case to CBI by the Supreme Court.

The central investigating agency had on Monday filed the contempt plea in the top court against the chief secretary of West Bengal, the directorate general of police and the police commissioner for alleged willful and deliberate violation of apex court orders.

The CJI-led bench said there should be no difficulty in directing the Kolkata police commissioner to join the investigation. The top court also said it would issue a notice to the chief secretary, DGP and commissioner Kumar in the contempt petition.

West Bengal counsel AM Singhvi questioned the urgency saying that there hasn’t been an FIR against Kumar for the last five year.

“It’s an attempt to humiliate and score a point. What is the great urgency? For five year there was no FIR. There is not a single FIR against Rajeev Kumar under 201 (Destruction of evidence) of the IPC,” Singhvi said.
To this the bench replied — “We do not understand why you are opposed to Kolkata Police Commissioner’s appearance for questioning before CBI?”

The CBI’s plea came a day after the five officers of the probe agency had moved to arrest the Kolkata police commissioner, although they were denied entry to the latter’s residence and later detained.
The CBI said it has found substantial evidence against the Kolkata police commissioner, for which it sent summonses to him.

The plea claimed the summonses were not responded to properly by the police commissioner and he was found to be destroying evidence pertaining to the case.
The agency said the non-cooperation of Rajeev Kumar was brought to the notice of the West Bengal DGP. However, neither the DGP nor the police commissioner cooperated, it alleged.

The CBI is investigating this case under a “hostile environment and non-cooperation from the state of West Bengal and it’s agencies/departments”, the petition said.
The showdown between the CBI and the Kolkata Police also took a political turn after West Bengal chief minister Mamata started a dharna on the issue.

A number of opposition leaders including Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah and DMK president MK Stalin have expressed solidarity with Banerjee.

Earlier on Monday, the Supreme Court warned of strong action if the Kolkata police commissioner was found “even remotely thinking of destroying” evidence in the Saradha chit fund scam as the Centre moved the top court for arresting him. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi will now hear the matter on Tuesday.

(With inputs from agencies)

Source: TimesofIndia.com

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