THE SPECIAL Investigation Team (SIT) headed by Rajeev Kumar, now Kolkata Police Commissioner at the centre of the Centre-West Bengal faceoff, was “used to shield…Saradha, M/s Rose Valley and Tower Group etc. which have given huge contributions (even by way of cheques) to the party in power in the State of West Bengal”.
Putting this on record in its additional affidavit to the Supreme Court Tuesday, the CBI alleged that Kumar “destroyed… and tampered” with Call Data Records of a key accused, suppressed the FIR registered against Rose Valley and held back evidence. And that “a strong prima facie case of…Kumar having committed offences both under the Prevention of Corruption Act and other IPC offences have been made out”.
Kumar has denied wrongdoing in the SIT probe into these chit fund companies. On Tuesday, hours after the Supreme Court directed him to cooperate with the CBI, he wrote to the agency that he is ready to meet its officers on February 8 in Shillong.
In its affidavit, CBI SP Partha Mukherjee said the “prima facie role” of Kumar in “Saradha Chit fund…registered at Kolkata, is under investigation”. The agency claimed it had “collected…several incriminating material/ correspondence…against senior police officials as well as senior politicians”, and sought the court’s permission to place them in a sealed cover.
Kumar, it alleged, “also destroyed…and tampered with the material primary evidence in the form of CDRs while handing over the same to the CBI on 28.6.2018”. The affidavit alleged that even after the Supreme Court entrusted the probe to the agency on May 9, 2014, “Kumar was not parting with the investigation material containing the evidence collected by the SIT…”.
“In spite of the continuous insistence and follow-up by the CBI”, Kumar “furnished CDRs of the prime accused only on 28.6.2018… the CDRs of the accused, when analysed by the CBI, were found to be tampered, doctored and the material evidence had been destroyed,” it alleged.
This came to light, the agency said, when the CBI “obtained the original CDRs from the service providers” and compared them with those handed over by Kumar’s SIT. “Over and above the tampered/ doctored CDRs, there are large number hard discs and other material still in custody” of Kumar, the CBI claimed.
The agency alleged that the team headed by Kumar “is under investigation as the said SIT, instead of serving the purpose, was conniving with the accused/ potential accused persons and was actively subverting the investigation process”.
Describing Sunday’s confrontation outside Kumar’s residence as an “attack” on its officers by the “West Bengal police personnel”, the CBI said it was “tantamount to nothing less than an armed rebellion against the Central Government and the Central agencies”. Responding to the charges against Kumar in the CBI’s affidavit, Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who is the counsel for West Bengal, said “it is astonishing that although the Saradha investigation started in 2013 and is exclusively under CBI since 2014, there is neither an FIR against Kumar and he is not even an accused till today”.
“There is not even an allegation of this sort against Kumar” in any of the cases decided by the Supreme Court related to the chit fund cases, he said. In Kolkata, sources said a five-member CBI team — likely to be headed by Tathagata Bardhan, the DSP who is probing the chit fund cases — is preparing a set of questions for Kumar. “Steps are being taken to issue a notice to Rajeev Kumar and call him to our office in Shillong…We will fix a date in accordance with the law and the Supreme Court directive,” a senior officer said.
Meanwhile, the CBI’s offices at the CGO complex and the Nizam Palace compound continued to be guarded by central forces for the second day — additional forces were pressed into service Tuesday morning.