In a setback to former Kolkata Police commissioner Rajeev Kumar in the Saradha chit fund scam, the Supreme Court on Friday vacated its February order that had granted him protection from arrest by the CBI. However, it said that the interim protection given earlier would continue for another seven days so as to enable him to get relief from a competent court.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said its February 5 order granting interim protection to Kumar will continue for seven days from Friday so that Kumar can approach the competent court for a legal remedy. “We have withdrawn the protection given to Rajeev Kumar vide order dated February 5,” it said.
Expressing concerns as to what has happened in the matter so far, Justice Sanjiv Khanna, who pronounced the order along with the CJI and Justice Deepak Gupta, said: “We are leaving it to the CBI to act in accordance with law.”
Kumar was heading the West Bengal Police’s special investigation team (SIT) probing the chit fund scam. The apex court had in May 2014 directed the CBI to investigate the case. The EC on Wednesday ordered removal of Kumar, who was the additional director general, CID, in West Bengal for allegedly failing to control incidents of violence in the state and had asked him to report to the Union home ministry on Thursday.
In April, the investigative agency had asked the apex court to vacate its order restraining any coercive action against Kumar and to grant permission for “custodial interrogation.” It had accused Kumar of being non-cooperative and wanted to interrogate him to “unravel” the larger plot and the “money trail” in the scam. The agency had also claimed that they were seeking vacation of interim protection granted to Kumar as some crucial evidence, collected by the West Bengal Police SIT, was not shared with it despite repeated requests.
In the wake of the face-off between the CBI and the Bengal government in February, the SC had directed Kumar “to appear and make himself available before the CBI and to also cooperate in connection with the investigations into the multi-crore chit fund scam. It had on February 5 granted protection from arrest to Kumar.
However, Kumar had contended that the CBI was “targeting” him as part of a “larger conspiracy” and seeking custodial interrogation of the IPS officer was a “mala fide exercise”. He said the agency wanted his custodial interrogation “just to humiliate” him and the CBI should not be allowed to abuse the process of law.
His counsel had also argued that the IPS officer was interrogated by the CBI for almost 40 hours and the agency was not able to spell out clearly as to what was the offence committed by him for which it wanted his custodial interrogation.