Former Kolkata police chief Rajeev Kumar has been given seven days to seek protection from arrest by the CBI for his alleged role in destroying evidence related to the Saradha chit fund scam in West Bengal when he was heading the probe.
The top court said its February order giving him protection will continue for seven days and told the Central Bureau of Investigation to “act in accordance with the law”.
The CBI had told the Supreme Court that it wanted custodial interrogation of Mr Kumar, as there was preliminary evidence of him allegedly trying to destroy or tamper with evidence and “shield high and mighty” in the case.
“We have withdrawn the protection given to Rajeev Kumar vide order dated February 5,” the bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, said while pronouncing the order.
The probe agency had said it needs to take Mr Kumar into custody to question him about the finer details of the case.
Rajeev Kumar’s lawyer had told the Supreme Court that the agency wanted his custodial interrogation “just to humiliate” him and the CBI should not be allowed to abuse the process of law.
On February 3, a team of CBI officers was stopped from entering Mr Kumar’s home in Kolkata when they had gone to question him in connection with the chit fund scam cases. The move had prompted Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to go on a sit-in in the heart of the city against what she called was an “the attack on constitutional norms”.
Over a week later, acting on the Supreme Court’s order, the CBI questioned Mr Kumar for five days in Shillong. The top court had also ordered that no coercive action can be taken against Rajeev Kumar and he cannot be arrested.
Mr Kumar was transferred to the Crime Investigation Department (CID). Earlier this week, he was posted to the Union Home Ministry in Delhi by the Election Commission after violence during a rally by BJP chief Amit Shah in Kolkata. He reported for duty at the Home Ministry on Thursday.
The Saradha scam was a major financial fraud which lured lakhs of investors to deposit money in its schemes with glossy brochures and the promise of abnormally high returns. An official estimate says Saradha had mopped up about Rs. 1,200 crore through its chit funds, but some calculations put that the figure closer to Rs. 4,000 crore. The company collapsed in April 2013.
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