Chit fund scam: SC asks CBI, W Bengal to resolve issue of

The Supreme Court today asked the CBI’s Director and Joint Director to meet West Bengal’s police chief and resolve the issue of its demand for more hands from the state police to probe the multi-crore rupee chit fund scam cases.

“We expect the CBI’s Director and Joint Director to take up the matter with the Director General of Police of West Bengal and arrive at a solution. It can be done in four weeks,” a bench of Justices T S Thakur and C Nagappan said.

The bench was hearing a fresh plea of CBI that it needed 10 Superintendent of Police (SPs), 15 Additional SPs and around hundred IOs of the level of Inspectors to deal with chit fund scam cases in the state.

The state government, in its reply, stated that there were 26,000 vacancies in the police and it faced a severe crunch of work force in higher posts.

The court, which termed as “justified” the submissions of the state and CBI both, asked them to sit together and resolve it.

This is not an “adversarial litigation” between the state police and CBI, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Maninder Singh, appearing for CBI, said.

The ASG said 971 cases have been registered, of which 464 matters related to non-Saradha chit fund firms.

At present, the chit-fund cases were spread over in various trial courts across the state and CBI wanted three special courts in Kolkata to deal with them, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar said.

Earlier, the court had taken strong note of CBI’s submission that it lacked manpower to handle all the chit fund scam cases.

“As per our earlier order, the entire investigation was transferred to CBI and now you (CBI) cannot decline to take up all the cases without seeking modification of the order,” it had said, adding “a plain reading of our earlier order says that all the cases stand transferred to CBI.”

However, the bench had clarified that CBI may seek modification of its earlier order.

The apex court had, on May 9 last year, ordered a CBI probe into the chit fund scam cases in West Bengal, Odisha and Assam allegedly involving various companies including Saradha, while taking note of allegations that scamsters were getting “patronage” of people in “high positions”.

During earlier hearing, CBI had told the court that it was not aware of the “magnitude” of the scam.

The probe agency had said it did not wish to probe further the 193 cases which had been investigated by the state police and in which charge sheets have been filed.

So far, three ruling Trinamool Congress leaders, including West Bengal Transport Minister Madan Mitra and two MPs Srinjoy Bose and Kunal Ghosh, have been arrested in Saradha chit fund scam cases.

CBI has also questioned senior Trinamool leader and former Railway Minister Mukul Roy in connection with the case.

The court had earlier declined to monitor the CBI probe into the Saradha scam, saying it has not made any accusation that the agency was “negligent” in its investigations.