Bengal IAS officer held for corruption, arresting cop removed

Kolkata/Siliguri, Nov 30 (IANS) IAS officer Godala Kiran Kumar, posted as the district magistrate of West Bengal's Malda district, was arrested Saturday on the charge of siphoning funds from the Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority (SJDA) while serving as its CEO.

Within few hours of the arrest, Siliguri Police Commissioner K. Jayaraman was removed from his post for "exceeding his power" and making the arrest without informing the Mamata Banerjee-led state government.

During his tenure as the CEO of the SJDA from September 2011 to March 2013, Kiran Kumar allegedly siphoned off Rs.80 crore and is a prime accused in the scam involving Rs.200 crore.

Charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code as well as the Prevention of Corruption Act, he was sent to four days' police custody by a court.

Chief Secretary Sanjay Mitra said the case against Kiran Kumar would continue but Jayaraman had been asked to hand over charge.

"We feel the arrest was warranted only if the accused would have tampered with the evidences or absconded, but nothing such was applicable in this case," he said.

Mitra said Jayaraman exceeded his powers in arresting the Indian Administrative Service officer without taking permission from the state government.

"Procedurally, before taking such a big step, either the permission of the state government is required or at the least it should be informed. But nothing was done in this regard and we feel he (Jayaraman) exceeded his brief and transgressed his powers," said Mitra.

Mitra said the State Election Commission will be approached regarding Kiran Kumar's replacement as the Malda district magistrate.

"Due legal steps against the accused DM will be taken and since some electoral process is on in the district so we will approach the State Election Commission regard his replacement," added Mitra.

Jayaraman has been summoned to Kolkata for a meet with the state police chief while Deputy Inspector General of Police (Jalpaiguri) Jawed Shamim took over as the new police commissioner of Siliguri.

The opposition Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) has criticised the removal of the police officer.

"The removal of Jayaraman is unjust and will severely dent the moral of the police. This is not the way to fight corruption. We will hit the streets tomorrow (Sunday) in protest," said CPI-M leader Asok Bhattacharya.