Saradha scam: HC vacates order granting protection from arrest to ex-top copPTI | Kolkata | Updated: 13-09-2019 17:45 IST | Created: 13-09-2019 17:40 IST
The Calcutta High Court on Friday vacated its interim order granting former Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar protection from arrest in the Saradha chit fund scam case. The court also rejected Kumar's prayer for quashing of a CBI notice that sought his appearance for questioning in the case.
Kumar, who is currently the West Bengal CID Additional Director General, was part of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up by the state government to investigate the scam before the Supreme Court handed over the case to the CBI in 2014, along with other chit fund cases. The Saradha group of companies allegedly duped lakhs of customers to the tune of Rs 2,500 crore, promising higher rates of return on investment.
Kumar was the commissioner of Bidhannagar Police when the SIT was formed and looked after its day to day operations, his counsel had told the court during the hearing of the case. Justice Mitra, in her order, said that Kumar's allegation that he was targetted and singled out for questioning by the CBI cannot be accepted since other officers superior to him in the SIT were questioned.
The court observed that the notice served on Kumar by the investigating officer (IO) cannot be said to be mala fide as alleged by the IPS officer, as he can question anyone acquainted with the case. Noting that Kumar has failed to substantiate that the CBI was summoning him for questioning to dent his reputation, the court observed that it should be the duty of every responsible officer to assist an investigation.
The CBI had summoned Kumar on May 27 for questioning in connection with the Saradha Ponzi scheme case, challenging which he had moved the high court, seeking quashing of the notice. A vacation bench had on May 30 granted Kumar protection from arrest and coercive action by the CBI. The protection was extended from time to time during the hearing of his petition seeking quashing of the notice.
Justice Mitra observed that the right to life and personal liberty enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution is not absolute, but a qualified right. She also refused to entertain the former Kolkata top cop's prayer that no coercive action be taken against him without the permission of this court.
The Supreme Court had, on May 17, withdrawn the protection from arrest to Kumar, which it had granted earlier. A vacation bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Arun Mishra, had said Kumar could approach the Calcutta High Court or a trial court here for seeking relief in the case.
The central agency had in April told the top court that Kumar's custodial interrogation was necessary as he was not cooperating in the probe.