A file photo of agents outside Saradha branch office in Kolkata. Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/Mint
A file photo of agents outside Saradha branch office in Kolkata. Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/Mint

In Saradha scam case, SC to hear former Kolkata cop’s fresh plea seeking extension of protection

  • In his plea, Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar contended that if he was arrested it would not only tarnish his reputation but also adversely impact his impeccable service record
  • He alleged that “CBI officers are certainly working under some kind of illegal diktats and instructions to target him”

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear a fresh plea filed by former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar seeking extension of protection from arrest in the Saradha chit fund scam case.

"All mentioning (of petitions for urgent hearing) are allowed. The petitions would be listed tomorrow," a vacation bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and M R Shah said.

The vacation bench will be headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on Friday.

In his plea, Kumar contended that if he was arrested it would not only tarnish his reputation but also adversely impact his impeccable service record. Also, that the arrest will lead to his automatic suspension from government services. He alleged that “CBI officers are certainly working under some kind of illegal diktats and instructions to target him".

On 17 May, the top court vacated its order granting protection from arrest to Kumar in the Saradha chit fund scam case. The apex court had, however, said that its 5 February order granting interim protection to Kumar will continue for seven days ending Friday. The top court had also allowed Kumar to seek bail from a competent court in the seven days awarded.

On 20 May, Kumar approached the apex court seeking an extension of the order granting him protection, citing a strike of lawyers in West Bengal. But since the order pronounced on 17 May was passed by a three-judge bench, a two-judge vacation bench was unable to modify the order. Hence the SC vacation bench comprising of Justice Indira Banerjee and Sanjiv Khanna had directed Kumar to approach the secretary general of Supreme Court with a request for urgent hearing before a three judge bench.

While granting Kumar protection, the apex court had left it open for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to act in "accordance with law" but clarified that the present order does not accept or reject the request for "custodial interrogation or grant of protection."

The CBI, in its plea filed on 5 April, had sought permission for custodial interrogation of Kumar, who earlier headed the West Bengal police special investigation team (SIT) probing the chit fund scam, over his alleged role in destroying evidence in the case.

The probe agency had alleged that there was prima facie evidence against Kumar of trying to “destroy or tamper with evidence and shield high and mighty" in the case. The agency had pleaded for withdrawal of the February 5 order which stated that "no coercive action" would be taken against Rajeev Kumar. The order also directed Kumar to cooperate with the CBI in the probe. The CBI in their plea had claimed that Kumar had also failed to disclose crucial information he was privy to.

On 3 February, a CBI team was detained by Kolkata Police when it reached Kumar’s residence to question him. It was followed by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s visit to the officer’s home. The CBI officers were taken to a police station and later released.

The Saradha group scam erupted in 2013 when investors demonstrated in front of the Trinamool Congress office demanding the government take action against the group’s officials for defaulting on payments. In April 2013, the chairman of the group that ran the “ponzi scheme", Sudipta Sen and the company’s executive director Debjani Mukherjee, were arrested from Jammu & Kashmir after a few days’ of chase.

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