NEW DELHI, May 23: The Supreme Court Thursday agreed to hear the fresh plea of former Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar seeking extension of protection from arrest in the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam.
The former police commissioner was granted protection from arrest for a seven-day period which ends on May 24.
The fresh plea for protection from arrest has been filed in view of the continuing state-wide lawyers’ strike in West Bengal.
“All mentioning (of petitions for urgent hearing) are allowed. The petitions would be listed tomorrow,” a vacation bench comprising justices Arun Mishra and M R Shah told lawyers standing in a queue to mention their matters for urgent listing.
Kumar, in his fresh plea, has said the protection from arrest which expires Friday, be extended till the lawyers’ stir in the state ends. On May 17, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had withdrawn the protection from arrest granted to Kumar by its February 5 order. However, the court had said his protection would continue for seven days from May 17 to enable him to approach the competent court for relief.
The apex court, on February 5, had granted protection from arrest to Kumar while directing him to appear before the CBI and “faithfully” cooperate with investigation of cases arising out of the scam.
On May 20, Kumar had moved the apex court seeking an extension of the seven-day protection granted in view of lawyers’ strike in Kolkata.
However, the court had said since the May 17 order was passed by a three-judge bench, Kumar’s counsel can approach the apex court registry or the secretary general for listing of the matter before an appropriate bench.
In its May 17 order, the top court had also expressed concern over the confrontation between the CBI and the West Bengal Police in the case, saying “at the receiving end are silently waiting lakhs of small town and rural investors who have been deprived and looted of their savings”.
The bench had said the situation was grim as both sides have hardened their stand and there was no administrative mechanism in place to avoid and resolve such conflicts between two wings of the police force in the country.
It had noted that the CBI had issued three notices on October 18 and October 23, 2017, and on December 8, 2018, asking Kumar to appear and join investigation, but he had not responded.
The court had also noted that the West Bengal government and Kumar have alleged “political vendetta” and have made allegations against M Nageswara Rao, a former interim CBI director.
In its order, the court had said the CBI had alleged non-cooperation and charged the West Bengal Police with “obfuscating investigation by causing impediments and roadblocks with a view to protect big names and members/leaders of the ruling party in the State of West Bengal”.
The court had noted the CBI’s claim of having substantial material implicating Kumar, the then Commissioner, Bidhannagar Commissionerate, of connivance and complicity with the principal accused.
Earlier, Kumar in an affidavit before the court had alleged that he was targeted by the CBI in the chit fund case due to “mala fide intent” and “conflict of interest” of Rao as his family members were under the scanner post-demonetisation.
The Election Commission had ordered removal of Kumar, who was posted as Additional Director General, CID, in West Bengal, for allegedly failing to control incidents of violence in the state and had asked him to report to the Union Home Ministry on Thursday.
Kumar was removed along with West Bengal’s Principal Secretary (Home) Atri Bhattacharya after parts of Kolkata witnessed widespread violence during BJP president Amit Shah’s massive road show in the city. (PTI)