SC lifts stay on ex-Kolkata police chief’s arrest
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday vacated the interim protection granted to former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar from arrest by the CBI in the multi-crore chit fund scam cases.
The investigating agency has accused Kumar of tampering with evidence to shield powerful politicians.
The court, however, granted seven days time to Kumar to take appropriate legal remedies.
While vacating its February 5 order granting the interim protection to Kumar, the apex court also expressed concern over the manner in which the chit fund cases panned out.
While arguing the case, senior counsel Indira Jaising, appearing for the officer, argued that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was being vindictive and had cooked up a false case against Kumar.
To support her argument, she referred to Kumar’s unblemished career and said he was a decorated officer and no doubt had ever been cast on his integrity.
Kumar was awarded the President’s Medal in 2015, after due diligence and scrutiny by the Home Ministry to select a candidate who had not been implicated in a case or departmental inquiry, she added.
Jaising said till date, the CBI had been unable to establish Kumar’s criminal intent in suppressing evidence in the investigation. “And yet they are seeking his custodial interrogation. There is a media trial going on.”
She claimed that there was a reason why the CBI singled out Kumar in the case.
“(Then interim) CBI Director Nageshwar Rao actually set the investigation agency after Kumar because there is an FIR against Rao’s wife in West Bengal,” she said.
Recalling the February incident when the CBI went to question Kumar and the entire episode took a political turn, Jaising said the agency tried to raid Kumar’s house in his absence.
“His wife, a public servant, was in the house. They levelled false charges that he has hidden evidence at his residence,” she argued.
Jaising also contended that the CBI was deliberately going after Kumar but never questioned Arnab Ghosh, then Director General of Police of Police, who was also part of the SIT investigating the chit fund scam.
The senior counsel also said no evidence of value was found on the electronic devices seized during the probe.
Appearing for the CBI, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta insisted that the agency was not hounding Kumar.
“We asked them a simple question regarding the FSL report of the electronic devices seized during the investigation but they did not give us any report,” he said.
He also said it was impossible to establish the authenticity of electronic data seized during the scam in the absence of a forensic science laboratory (FSL) report.
Insisting that the FSL report was crucial to solve the case, he said: “We have been demanding it since the case was handed over to the CBI. How do we know that mobiles, laptops, pen drives have not been compromised?”
At this, Jaising said the data was seized by different agencies — the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), the Assam Police and the Enforcement Directorate — and not by the West Bengal Police alone.