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Supreme Court orders Rajeev Kumar to cooperate with probe, issues notice to West Bengal in contempt plea

Supreme Court orders Rajeev Kumar to cooperate with probe, issues notice to West Bengal in contempt plea

Murali Krishnan

The Supreme Court today ordered Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar to appear and make himself available before the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and co-operate with the probe into the Saradha scam.

A Bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan  Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna also issued notice to the West Bengal Chief Secretary, the DGP, and Rajeev Kumar in the contempt of court application filed by the CBI.

The Court, however, made it clear that there should be no coercive steps including arrest against Rajeev Kumar. Further, the Court also ordered that in order to avoid unnecessary controversy, Rajeev Kumar shall appear before CBI in Shillong, Meghalaya.

Attorney General KK Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appeared for CBI while Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Anand Grover appeared for West Bengal.

Venugopal submitted that the state police was not co-operating with the probe. He cited various examples to show the same.

“The material handed over to us was not the entire material. We had serious doubts over the documents which were handed over to us. Call data which was given to us was incomplete”, he said.

The AG also said that there is a serious breakdown of legal machinery in West Bengal. He submitted,

“There is a serious breakdown of law and order. Can state police confront Centre’s police which is acting pursuant to orders of this Court? Your Lordships have to issue notice for contempt and also lay down law in this regard.”

He further argued that the conduct of Kumar and the State of West Bengal amounted to contempt of the Supreme Court judgment of May 2014.

Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi rebutted the submissions, saying that the whole episode was done with the object of harassment and humiliation.

He submitted that there is no non-cooperation on the part of the State of West Bengal, and that if the CBI had a problem, they should go to the Calcutta High Court.

Singhvi also submitted that the CBI officers were neither arrested nor detained.

“I have videos of the episode”, he said.

The Court then proceeded to pass its order.

It directed Calcutta Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar to appear before the CBI and co-operate with the probe. It also directed that the CBI should not take any coercive steps, including arresting Kumar.

Importantly, the Court issued notice to the West Bengal Chief Secretary, the DGP, and Rajeev Kumar in the contempt of court plea filed by CBI.

They have to file their response on or before February 18. The Court also stated in its order that on consideration of the replies of the aforesaid three authorities, the Court may require the personal presence of the said officers on February 20.

The CBI approached the Supreme Court against the “non-cooperation” of the West Bengal government after the State Police detained, and subsequently released, the CBI officials who visited Kolkata to question the Commissioner of Police, Rajeev Kumar.

Kumar was heading the Special Investigation Team that was probing the Saradha Chit fund Scam and the Rose Valley Ponzi Scam. He was summoned for questioning by the CBI on several occasions after some documents relating to the scams went missing. Kumar allegedly ignored these summons and is accused by the Interim Director of the CBI of “destroying evidence against himself.”

On February 3, a team of CBI officers landed at Kumar’s doorstep to question him on the cases. The Kolkata Police then restrained the CBI officers from entering Kumar’s bungalow, and detained them at a Police Station.

Before the Supreme Court, the CBI had claimed that Kumar was involved in the destruction of electronic evidence in the Saradha case. Yesterday, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had directed the CBI to place any proof of this claim within 24 hours.

Read live updates of today’s hearing.

Read the order below.