West Bengal government and its police refuted CBI allegations in the Supreme Court Monday that they obstructed investigation into the Saradha chit fund scam cases, with the state cops asserting the central agency forcefully tried to enter the Kolkata.police commissioner's residence on February 3 without valid papers. Chief secretary Malay Kumar De, DGP Virendera Kumar and Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar filed separate affidavits in the apex court on the contempt petition moved by the CBI in connection with the scam and tendered "unconditional and unambiguous apology" for alleged disobedience of the court.
The trio maintained however that the West Bengal.government and the state police at no point of time obstructed investigation nor any official denied cooperation to CBI. The officers opposed the contempt petition against in which CBI alleged that they were tampering with evidence and not complying with the apex court's various orders relating to the probe by asserting that there was a need for directions to the probe agency not to make any vague allegations without substantial and cogent evidence.
Referring to the February 3 incident, Kolkata.police commissioner Rajeev Kumar said in his affidavit that CBI forcibly tried to enter his house without valid papers. The contention has been supported by the DGP in his affidavit. They have also claimed that no police officials went on 'dharna manch' where West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee sat to protest the CBI action.
The DGP and Kumar said no police officer, in uniform or otherwise at any given point in time, ever sat or joined the dharna along with Banerjee. Kumar said it was "very intriguing" as to why a major decision by the CBI was taken to interrogate him on February 3, which was the last day in office of the then interim CBI director M Nageswara Rao.
"In this context, it is also pertinent to mention here that Sunday i.e. February 3, 2019, was the last day in office of the interim CBI Director, who was to be replaced by the present Director, CBI, the very next day i.e. on February 4, 2019," he said in his affidavit. Kumar further said: "It seems very intriguing as to why such a major decision could not wait even for a single day for the new Director CBI to join, especially when the last notice was issued to the answering respondent, after a gap of more than a year, as noted hereinabove.
"The action taken by the CBI, was also de hors the orders passed by the Calcutta High Court keeping in abeyance the notices issued by the CBI under section 160, CrPC to the State Police Officials, in presence of the counsels representing the CBI." Kumar, against whom CBI has alleged tampering of electronic evidence including call detail records, said he was never in direct possession of evidence, material or documents.
They responded to the notices issued on February 5 by the apex court which had asked them to clarify their stand on the allegation that evidence was tampered with and the state police was not cooperating with the Central Bureau of Investigation. A Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had said that after perusing the affidavits, a decision will be taken whether they would required to make personal appearance before it on February 20.
It said the Secretary General of the apex court will inform the trio on February 19 whether they are required to be present on February 20. The apex court on February 4 had said that "if the police commissioner is even remotely trying to destroy evidence, we will come down so heavily on him that he will regret".
In the backdrop of the February 4 and 5 hearings, Kumar, who was also accused by the CBI of shielding people close to the ruling Trinamool Congress, said: "He was never in exclusive and direct possession of evidences/ material/documents as alleged in the instant petition, for him to act contumaciously or subvert any orders passed by this Court. "Materials have either been in the exclusive custody of the various Investigating Officers as part of the investigative units under their supervisory officers across the state and/or the appropriate courts in accordance with applicable law."
He said in the Special Investigative Team constituted by the state that "he was a member and not in a supervisory role of investigation units but was discharging function as an administrative & logistic coordinator". Kumar said there were Assistant Commissioner of Police, Deputy Commissioner of Police and Joint Commissioner of Police rank officers for closer and direct supervision of the investigation of cases in Bidhannagar Police Commissionerate, where the deponent was posted as Commissioner of Police.
While maintaining that 76 cases have been lodged in connection with the chit fund scam, Kumar said that "his presence, adjacent to the site of dharna" was to "discharge his duties" as Director General of Police and Inspector General of Police, West Bengal, had come to the place which had become, for all practical purposes, a makeshift secretariat/camp office of the chief minister. They were there to "tackle any unforeseen situation which could have arisen due to the volatile and evolving situation", he said.