Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court on Friday removed the protection given to former Kolkata Police commissioner, Rajeev Kumar, from arrest, paving the way for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to interrogate and take him into custody if it felt necessary, reported Hindustan Times.
The court observed that if an investigating agency functions within the ambit of law, a court cannot interfere in its work.
The lawyer fighting for the CBI confirmed the verdict doing away with the protection from arrest that Kumar was enjoying but refused to comment on whether he would be arrested now. The shield from arrest was set to end on Friday.
When asked whether Rajeev Kumar can appeal against the single bench verdict on Friday before a division bench of the Calcutta high court, the lawyer said, “Against criminal revision no appeal lies before the honourable high court, apart from the Supreme Court.”
Calcutta High Court’s vacation bench gave Kumar a temporary reprieve from arrest but said that he has to appear whenever he is summoned for interrogation.
Kumar’s lawyer had alleged in the court that the CBI was trying to harass him by summoning him repeatedly. The court said that the agency could summon him whenever it felt necessary for questioning.
“If the CBI wants, they may arrest Rajeev Kumar. Mamata Banerjee was desperate to save him and even rushed to his residence and even held a demonstration. The court has done the right thing. They are now free to do whatever they want,” said Bharatiya Janata Party state president Dilip Ghosh, who also remarked that the verdict may put chief minister Mamata Banerjee in bigger danger than the former Kolkata top cop.
A Trinamool Congress minister refused to comment on the verdict.
In May, Rajeev Kumar was questioned by the officers of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with the Saradha ponzi scam in which he has been accused of tampering evidence to shield influential persons.
The CBI had earlier questioned Kumar about a pen drive and red diary that the Special Investigation Team (SIT), constituted by the Mamata Banerjee government in 2013 and headed by him, seized from the office of Saradha Group.
The device and diary, allegedly seized from Saradha’s office in Midland Park in Salt Lake, are believed to contain information on pay offs to influential persons.
The SIT had investigated the scam till 2014, when the CBI took over the probe following an order by the Supreme Court.
The Rs 2,460-crore Saradha scam is the politically most sensitive scam in Bengal in which a minister (Madan Mitra), a Rajya Sabha MP (Kunal Ghosh) and a Trinamool Congress (TMC) vice-president Rajat Majumdar were sent to jail. Another Rajya Sabha MP (Srinjoy Bose) from the Trinamool Congress was also questioned.
Over the past few months, the CBI unsuccessfully tried to interrogate him several times. On February 3, when a team of CBI officers tried to reach his official residence in Kolkata -- he was the commissioner of Kolkata Police then -- chief minister Mamata Banerjee launched a sit-in demonstration against the Centre accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders of conspiring against whom she described as “the most efficient” police officer in the country. The chief minister’s demonstration lasted for two days.
Subsequently, the CBI got to question Kumar in Shillong for five consecutive days in the second week of February but with a rider that he could not be arrested.