Chit fund scam: CBI seeks SC permission to arrest top cop Rajeev Kumar

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi is to hear the CBI\'s plea on Monday.

New Delhi: The CBI has moved the Supreme Court seeking recall of the court's February 5 order staying the arrest of former Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar to let the agency put him to custodial interrogation in the Saradha and Rose Valley ponzi scam cases.

In its plea to the apex court, the agency said the recall of the order granting Kumar an interim protection from the arrest was necessary "to unravel the entire gamut of the larger conspiracy in the ponzi scam cases". The CBI also sought the court's directions to the West Bengal authorities to comply with the court's earlier orders "in letter and spirit" and not to create any hurdle in the CBI probe or try to "intimidate, harass and scare the agency officials" probing the cases.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi is to hear the CBI's plea on Monday. "Recall the interim protection granted to Rajeev Kumar for no coercive steps, including arrest, granted by this court by order dated February 5, 2019 to enable the CBI to subject him to interrogation in accordance with the law to unravel the entire gamut of larger conspiracy in these ponzi scam cases and its subsequent investigation," the CBI's application said.

The agency said it needs to examine Kumar and other police officials to recover the material evidence and to investigate into the acts of omission and commission on the part of Bidhan Nagar police commissionerate and SIT officials in causing concealment of the evidence collected by them during investigation. It said erstwhile Bidhan Nagar Police Commissioner Kumar besides the then deputy commissioner of police (detective department) and other SIT officials did not cooperate with the CBI in investigation and did not help in making available to it all the material evidence in the Ponzi scam cases.

The CBI said there were around 270 Ponzi firms operating in West Bengal of which Saradha and Rose Valley groups were the most important ones. It said Saradha group collected around Rs 2,450 crore and even after the scam came to the fore, the Rose valley group managed to collect around Rs 2,536.80 crore in 2013-14 from the public at large.

The CBI application said former Bidhan Nagar Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar "by his inaction or otherwise facilitated Saradha Group to illegally operate and further collect Rs 805.77 crores during 2012-13 and Rose Valley Group to illegally operate and collect Rs 6865.85 crores during 2012-14". On March 29, the apex court had agreed to hear a CBI plea against mobile service providers Vodafone and Airtel that they were not cooperating with the investigation in Saradha chit fund scam cases.

The CBI claimed they were not providing it full call detail records (CDRs) of the scam accused despite repeated requests. The agency had recently filed a status report on Kumar's interrogation in connection with the scam. The apex court had on March 26 termed as "very very serious" the revelations made by the CBI in its status report relating to Kumar's interrogation.

The top court had said it cannot "close its eyes" if some "very very serious facts" were disclosed to it and directed the agency to file an application seeking appropriate relief against Kumar, who had earlier headed the state SIT probing the chit fund scam. It had refused to drop the contempt proceedings against the West Bengal DGP, the chief secretary and Kumar. The apex court is hearing a CBI's plea to initiate contempt of court proceedings against various senior officials of the West Bengal government, accusing them of not cooperating in its probe and tampering with the evidence, including CDRs of key accused and Sardha group CMD Sudipta Sen and Debjani Mukherjee.

The court, which had earlier asked the CBI director to file an affidavit giving details of the alleged acts of contempt committed by the West Bengal police officials and others in the case, had perused the CBI director's reply and the fresh status report, pertaining to quizzing of Kumar.

The apex court had said the allegations made by the CBI were serious enough and it was an "obligation" on the part of the agency to disclose full details of the alleged contempt committed by the then police commissioner. It had questioned the CBI for the delay in moving the apex court when the agency allegedly noticed the tampering of electronic evidence in June 2018.

The probe agency came out with a contempt petition after the February 3 incident in which the CBI sleuths, who had gone to probe Kumar at his residence, were taken into custody and manhandled by the West Bengal Police. The apex court had taken note of the February 3 incident in which top officers of the state police allegedly sat with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on dharna.

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