Tuesday, the Supreme Court postponed the hearing on CBI’s contempt plea against former Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar and others alleging non-cooperation in the multi-crore-rupee Saradha chit fund scam case by them in its probe by two weeks.
On February 4, 2019, the CBI, entrusted by the apex court with investigating the Ponzi scheme cases in West Bengal, filed a contempt plea against Kumar, former Malay Chief Secretary Kumar De, and state DGP Virendra, stating that their cooperation in the ongoing probe was not obtained.
The agency also demanded the cancellation of Kumar’s bail and his custodial questioning, as he was “evasive during interrogation.”
The hearing was deferred by two weeks by a bench comprising Justices S Abdul Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna while it was holding a final hearing on the case related to the winding-up of Franklin Templeton’s six mutual fund schemes.
Senior lawyer A M Singhvi, appearing for one of the bureaucrats, said the organization was “reviving something which is age old” during a brief hearing.
“The contempt always remains alive,” said Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, speaking on behalf of the CBI.
“It becomes alive during elections,” said Singhvi.
Allegedly, the Saradha group of companies duped lakhs of citizens of about Rs 2,500 crore, promising higher return rates on their investments.
During Kumar’s tenure as the Bidhannagar police commissioner, the scam was uncovered in 2013.
Before the Supreme Court handed over the case to the CBI in 2014 along with other chit fund cases, Kumar was part of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed by the West Bengal government to test the scam.
The apex court had sought the response of the IPS officer on the appeal of the CBI in November 2019 challenging the anticipatory bail granted to him by the Calcutta High Court in the chit fund scam.
In the supreme court, the probe agency filed an appeal against the Calcutta High Court’s order of 1 October 2019, which granted Kumar the relief that it was not a suitable case for custodial questioning.
On a 48-hour notice from the CBI, the high court ordered Kumar to cooperate with the investigating officers and make himself available before them for questioning.
On September 21, 2019, the Alipore District and Sessions Court in Kolkata dismissed a pre-arrest bail plea from the IPS officer.
After a CBI team had reached Kumar’s official residence to query him, the Centre and the West Bengal government were both locked in an unprecedented standoff, but had to withdraw as local police detained their officers.