The Supreme Court Monday sought the response of former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar on CBI's plea seeking his arrest in the multi-crore rupee Saradha chit fund scam. The apex court, on February 5, granted protection from arrest to Kumar while directing him to appear before the CBI and "faithfully" cooperating into the investigation of cases arising out of the scam.
The central probe agency has sought vacation of the order so that it can arrest and interrogate Kumar. "This is the interim application (IA) of the CBI seeking custodial interrogation of Rajeev Kumar. Issue notice. Let the matter be listed for hearing on April 15," said a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna.
The bench also allowed CBI to file a fresh affidavit regarding its allegations that telecom operators -- Vodafone and Airtel -- were not cooperating with it in the probe. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Vodafone, said that it has provided the details including the CDRs (call data records) to the CBI and sought the hearing after three weeks. The bench has now posted this aspect after two weeks.
At the outset, senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for the former Kolkata police chief, said that CBI's plea, in this case, must be settled or approved by the CBI Director as he has no faith in M Nageswara Rao, former interim CBI Director, whose wife is being probed by the West Bengal police in a 2017 case. "Let us not digress from the real issue. You are taking excuses. The CBI is seeking your arrest. Don't go here and there," the bench said.
Singhvi then said that he was not aware of a listing of CBI's plea, seeking arrest of Kumar, today. "This (CBI's IA) is very much there. It is listed today. If you do not know this, what can I do," the bench said and it prompted Singhvi to tender an apology.
In its plea to the apex court, the agency has said the recall of the order granting Kumar an interim protection from the arrest was necessary "to unravel the entire gamut of the larger conspiracy in the ponzi scam cases". The CBI also sought the court's directions to the West Bengal authorities to comply with the court's earlier orders "in letter and spirit" and not to create any hurdle in the CBI probe or try to "intimidate, harass and scare the agency officials" probing the cases.
"Recall the interim protection granted to Rajeev Kumar for no coercive steps, including arrest, granted by this court by order dated February 5, 2019 to enable the CBI to subject him to interrogation in accordance with the law to unravel the entire gamut of larger conspiracy in these ponzi scam cases and its subsequent investigation," the CBI's application said.
The agency said it needs to examine Kumar and other police officials to recover the material evidence and to investigate into the acts of omission and commission on the part of Bidhan Nagar police commissioner and SIT officials in causing concealment of the evidence collected by them during investigation.
The CBI also sought directions to West Bengal authorities to comply with the court's earlier orders "in letter and spirit" and not to create any hurdle in the agency probe or try to "intimidate, harass and scare agency officials" probing the cases. Earlier, the apex court had termed as "very very serious" the revelations made by CBI in its status report relating to the recent interrogation of the then Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar in connection with the Saradha chit fund scam case. It had asked the CBI to file an appropriate application seeking reliefs against Kumar.
(With inputs from agencies.)