Saradha Scam: SC quizzes CBI on missing evidence

The top court asked the CBI to show if he caused destruction or disappearance of evidence related to multi-thousand crore Saradha chit fund scam.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the CBI, seeking custodial interrogation of then Kolkata police commissioner, IPS officer Rajeev Kumar, to show some materials that it was for genuine investigation and not for any political purpose.

The top court asked the CBI to show if he caused destruction or disappearance of evidence related to multi-thousand crore Saradha chit fund scam.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to produce the materials by Wednesday.

"We have to be satisfied that it (CBI's application) was out of a bona fide interest of investigation and not for political purpose," the bench said.

"He was at best the supervisory officer. You have to show some materials that he was a party to all this...We want you to satisfy that this man whose custodial interrogation you seek had a role in disappearance or destruction of evidence," the bench added.

The court's oral observations came after Mehta said the officer as head of the West Bengal police SIT allowed the release of seized mobile phones and computers containing crucial records related to the involvement of political functionaries in the scam.

On February 5, the court directed Kumar, who headed the SIT and allegedly did not hand over entire case records and evidence, to make himself available before the CBI and “faithfully” cooperate.

The CBI, subsequently, sought a modification of the order by which the court had directed no coercive action or arrest of Kumar should be made.

Arguing on behalf of the CBI, Mehta said, "Mobiles phones seized were never sent to FSL. The mobile records could have disclosed material evidence. They conceded to hand over seized mobiles and computers."

Kumar was a deputy in charge of SIT set up by the state government to probe the scam. The first minimum cooperation was to hand over entire records when the apex court ordered the CBI to take over the investigation, he said. 

In a facts situation like this, that is the minimum one can expect but he was a party to the destruction of evidence, he alleged.

"We have filed in April 2019 affidavit they were not ready to tell what information they got from Vodafone and Airtel," Mehta said.

We want to investigate where have the vital piece of evidence went like a diary of records, he added.

We want to know why crucial documents were not seized which could have shown how black money was being passed through Ponzi scheme, Mehta claimed.

"On February 3, when a CBI team went to Kumar's residence, the normal human conduct is to cooperate. What was that in the residence of Kumar that led to an attack on CBI officers? Will anything justify ambush? What prompted dharna with the Chief Minister. And they say Dharna place was a secretariat," Mehta asked.

After the apex court's order, when he appeared before the CBI in Shillong, Kumar gave "evasive answers, arrogant answers or no answers", he said.

"Why didn't you take search warrant? We want to know how did he not cooperate. We are not bothered who the person is," the bench said, posting the matter for further hearing on Wednesday, May 1.

"You have to make out that the order giving him protection was abused by him," the bench told Mehta.

The probe into chit fund scam was transferred to the central investigating agency, CBI by the Supreme Court on May 9, 2014.

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