The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to grant urgent listing to a plea by former Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar seeking extension of his protection from arrest in connection with the probe in the Saradha chit fund scam cases.
Citing the ongoing lawyers’ strike in Kolkata, Kumar had approached the apex court seeking extension of his seven-day protection — which will end later this week — to move the trial court in the West Bengal capital. His request was placed before Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi who, acting in the administrative capacity, declined to grant the urgent listing.
On May 17, a three-judge bench headed by the CJI had withdrawn the protection from arrest earlier granted to Kumar, but allowed him protection for seven more days to enable him to approach the competent court for relief.
The May 17 order came on a plea by the CBI which sought permission to interrogate Kumar in custody. The bench, which also comprised Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, went into the contentions raised for and against the agency’s plea and ordered, “therefore, in the given facts, we would withdraw the protection given to Mr. Rajeev Kumar, former Commissioner of Police, Kolkata, vide our order dated February 05, 2019 restraining the CBI from arresting him and thereby, leave it open to the CBI to act in accordance with the law.”
It added that “at the same time, we direct that the interim order dated February 05, 2019 would continue for a period of seven days from the date of pronouncement of this order to enable Mr. Rajeev Kumar to approach competent Court for relief, if so advised”.
The bench clarified that “we have not made any comments on the merits of the contentions and the reasons recorded in the present order would not be a ground to accept or reject the request of custodial interrogation or grant of protection, if any such application/petition is moved”.
The top court also expressed its “disappointment and dismay” at the “confrontation” between the CBI and West Bengal Police despite its orders which sought to allay this.
The CBI had sought the custodial interrogation of Kumar who, it said, was the “day-to-day In-charge of the SIT appointed by the State Government investigating the chit-fund scam cases”, and that there was prima facie evidence that he was allegedly trying to destroy evidence and “shield high and mighty” in the case.
It alleged non-cooperation and charged the state police with obfuscating the investigation by causing impediments and roadblocks with a view to protect big names and members/leaders of the ruling Trinamool Congress.
The West Bengal government, state police and Kumar denied the charges and alleged political vendetta behind the developments.