SC directs Kolkata top cop to appear before CBI

SC directs Kolkata top cop to appear before CBI

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during a sit-in in Kolkata on Tuesday. PTI

The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar to make himself available before the CBI and “faithfully” cooperate in the investigation into the Saradha and Rose Valley chit fund scams.

The top court, however, directed that the CBI should not arrest the IPS officer or take any coercive action.

In an order which may defuse the unprecedented drama and confrontation being witnessed in West Bengal, a three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi directed that Kumar be questioned at a neutral place, Shillong.

In trouble for the West Bengal Chief Secretary, DGP and Kolkata Police Commissioner, the court issued notices to them on a contempt petition filed by the CBI and sought their reply by February 18.

The court said the personal presence of the officers may be required on February 20, the next date of hearing, depending upon their response to the notice.

At the outset, Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the CBI, contended that Kumar — who headed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the chit fund scam between April, 2013, and May, 2014, when the investigation was transferred to the CBI — did not hand over the entire material.

He said nothing has been done against the accused belonging to the ruling Trinamool Congress party. In fact, the call detail records of the accused were doctored, he said. The top law officer also claimed that Kumar did not send the seized laptops and mobile phones of the accused, Sudipto Roy, for forensic examination.

On this, the bench, also comprising justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, said, “We don’t think there should be any difficulty in Kumar making himself available before the CBI.”

Senior advocate A M S Singhvi, appearing for the West Bengal government, submitted that the CBI wanted to humiliate the officer.

“What is the purpose of coming to the officer’s residence on Sunday evening and, that too, on the last date of acting CBI director,” he asked, adding there was a gap of about one year in the two notices sent by the CBI to Kumar, who was not named in any FIR.

The court, however, said the officer should cooperate with the CBI.

Venugopal insisted that the court take contempt action against the officers as the probe was being conducted on a direction by the top court on May 9, 2014.

Senior BJP leader and Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad described the top court’s order as a blow to the Mamata government and a victory for the CBI. It showed that nobody, including the police commissioner, was above the law, he said.

Earlier in the morning, the CBI filed an affidavit contending that Rajeev was prima facie found to be guilty of having committed criminal offences.