Days after he was transferred from the post of Kolkata police commissioner and appointed as the West Bengal CID chief, at a time when he had faced CBI questioning in connection with chit fund cases, the state government has given Rajeev Kumar additional charge of two significant units —the Special Task Force (STF) and the Directorate of Economic Offences (DEO).
Kumar, a 1989-batch IPS officer, was questioned by the CBI in Shillong for four days, starting February 9, after the Supreme Court directed him to appear before the agency and cooperate in the investigation of chit fund cases. The CBI had approached the apex court after its officials were prevented by Kolkata Police from questioning Kumar when they went to his residence on February 3.
The move had prompted Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to start a sit-in in the heart of the city to protest against “the attack on constitutional norms”.
On February 5, the Supreme Court had directed Kumar to appear before the central investigative agency in connection with the matter. It had also said that no coercive step should be taken against Kumar. Acting on the apex court’s order, the CBI had questioned Kumar for five days in Shillong.
The IPS officer was replaced as Commissioner of Police (Kolkata) by Anuj Sharma, former IG (Law and Order). He took charge as the West Bengal CID chief on February 19.
In a notification dated March 1, the state government directed Kumar to hold additional charge of the Directorate of Economic Offences and the STF immediately until further order.
During a rally in Rampurhat last month, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had taken a dig at the Centre, saying, “If you (referring to central government) have agencies, we do too. We have CID, economic offences wing and STF. Don’t think I know nothing.”
The state government had passed the West Bengal Protection of Interest of Depositors in Financial Establishments (WBPIDFE) Act to set up the economic offences unit in the wake of a multi-agency probe into ponzi scams in the state. The DEO, which operates under the state home department, has been functional with a special court and police station since 2017.
Government sources said the DEO has the power to investigate companies under the WBPIDFE Act 2013, which was amended in 2015, and for which rules were framed in 2016. The DEO is free to register a suo motu case against any such company on the basis of a complaint by investors, added the source.