New Delhi: In a setback for former Kolkata Police commissioner Rajeev Kumar, his plea seeking an extension of protection from arrest, granted by the Supreme Court, in connection with the Saradha chit fund scam case will not be heard this week. Anticipating an imminent arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Kumar approached the apex court on Monday seeking an extension of the seven-day protection granted to him.
The Supreme Court registry on Tuesday informed Kumar’s that his plea will not be listed this week. The apex court’s order granting protection to Kumar lapses on Friday and the CBI could arrest him if it wants to.
On 16 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 from 16 May.
The top court had also allowed Kumar to seek bail from a competent court in the seven days awarded. Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna had left it open for the CBI to act in "accordance with law" but clarified that the 16 May order does not accept or reject the request for "custodial interrogation or grant of protection."."
On Monday, Kumar cited a strike of lawyers in West Bengal as the main reason for seeking an extension.
However, because the order pronounced on 16 May was passed by a three-judge bench, as per the legal provisions it cannot be modified by two-judge bench. Hence the SC vacation bench comprising of Justice Indira Banerjee and Sanjiv Khanna on Monday directed Kumar to approach the secretary general of Supreme Court requesting an urgent hearing before a three- judge bench.
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. CBI officers were taken to a police station and later released.