Updated: February 24, 2021 4:13:19 am
THE SUPREME COURT on Tuesday deferred by two weeks the hearing on CBI’s contempt plea in connection with the Saradha chit fund scam case seeking to link West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee with some of the accused and accusing her government of showing “constant, deliberate and wilful non-cooperation” in the probe. The plea also alleges “a concerted effort to evade, avoid and escape the process of law” and “scuttle the investigation”.
A bench of Justices S A Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna adjourned the hearing as it has been holding final hearing in another matter.
Appearing for the state Chief Secretary, Senior Advocate A M Singhvi said the probe agency is “reviving something which is age old”. To this, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the CBI, replied, “The contempt always remains alive.”
“It becomes alive during elections,” responded Singhvi, apparently hinting that the matter was being revived as the state assembly elections were around the corner.
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The CBI plea has also sought custodial interrogation of former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar, alleging that during “further investigation… more evidence has emerged substantiating further the active connivance of… Kumar, the then Commissioner of Police, Bidhannagar, in shielding and protecting the influential co-accused persons who had promoted the illegal business activities of the group of Ponzi companies and who had been benefited from the illegally collected funds”. It said that “evidence, which connected the ruling dispensation of State of West Bengal at that point of time financially and otherwise with M/s Saradha group of Ponzi companies was concealed by the Bidhannagar police under stewardship of… Kumar, in order to shield and save everyone concerned”.
The application filed on December 23, 2020 said that examination of accused former Rajya Sabha MP Kunal Kumar Ghosh by the Enforcement Directorate during October 2013 “revealed that the Chief Minister, West Bengal and promoter of M/s Saradha Group – Shri Sudipta Sen, had very good relationship” and “used to talk to Shri Sudipta Sen using phone of…Ghosh”. The probe agency said that “call detail record of two numbers of… Sen spanning for one year reveals that… Ghosh and… Sen had contacted 298 times on one number and 09 times on… another number”.
With the apex court monitoring the investigation in the case, the CBI, in its December 23 application, repeated allegations of “startling nexus between highly placed authorities” in the scam, including “evidence, which connected the ruling dispensation of State of West Bengal” with the Saradha Group.
The Saradha group of companies allegedly duped lakhs of people of around Rs 2,500 crore, promising higher rates of return on their investments. The scam was unearthed in 2013 during Kumar’s tenure as the Bidhannagar police commissioner.
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