NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court will hear on Tuesday a plea by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against the West Bengal government under chief minister Mamata Banerjee for obstructing its questioning of the Kolkata Police commissioner over the Saradha chit fund scam.
The matter was mentioned before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi by solicitor-general Tushar Mehta, who told the court these were "extraordinary circumstances" and that the Kolkata Police commissioner Rajeev Kumar should immediately surrender to help with the investigation.
"Our team was under arrest by the state police. This is an unprecedented situation where the uniformed police officer sits in dharna with the political leader when he is sought to be questioned," Mehta said.
Mehta further expressed apprehension of electronic evidence being tampered with, to which CJI Gogoi said, "If you are able to substantiate your claim of tampering, we'll come down so heavily that they will regret it."
The CBI had moved the top court alleging "non-cooperation" by the West Bengal government after a tussle broke out between the two forces in the state capital on Sunday. It accused the West Bengal government of impeding investigation into the chit fund scam and sought action against the state government and the state police.
The investigative agency also moved court seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against West Bengal chief secretary, its director-general of police and the Kolkata Police commissioner for obstructing investigation into the chit fund scams.
The Supreme Court had handed over the investigation to the CBI in May 2014 and asked the state government to extend full cooperation.
A bench comprising Justices T.S. Thakur and C. Nagappan on 9 May, 2014, held, "The state police agencies currently investigating the cases shall provide the fullest cooperation to the CBI, including assistance in terms of men and material, to enable the latter to conduct and complete the investigation expeditiously."
A team of CBI officials was detained by the Kolkata Police on Sunday evening after it arrived at the residence of Kumar on Loudon Street to question him. The move follows speculation that Kumar would be summoned for interrogation in relation with chit fund scam cases, including the Saradha case. However, the team of CBI officials was stopped by a Kolkata Police unit.
While the CBI did not immediately react to the incident, Banerjee hit out saying, “You are coming to the commissioner's house without notice. We would have arrested the CBI officials, but let them go." Following the faceoff between the CBI and the Kolkata Police, Banerjee announced a dharna to “save the Constitution".