The Supreme Court, on Friday, 17 May, vacated its order granting protection from arrest to former Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar in the Saradha chit fund scam case.
The apex court said its 5 February order granting interim protection to Kumar will continue for seven days from today to enable him to approach the competent court for legal remedy.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi asked the CBI to act in accordance with law in the case.
The investigating agency had in April moved SC, with a plea seeking his arrest in the chit fund case, following which the bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi sought Kumar’s response within four weeks.
The CBI, in its plea, had claimed that Kumar, during his tenure as the Bidhan Nagar Commissioner had “facilitated the Saradha Group to illegally operate and further collect Rs 805.77 crore during 2012-13, and Rose Valley group to illegally operate and collect Rs 6,865.85 crore during 2012-14.”
On 3 February, while he was still the Police Commissioner of Kolkata, a team of CBI officers was stopped from entering his residence, when they had gone to question him in connection with the scam cases.
The move had led to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee launching a dharna in the heart of the city, protesting against "the attack on constitutional norms".
On 5 February, the apex court had directed Kumar to appear before the central investigative agency in connection with the matter. It had also said that no coercive step should be taken against Kumar.
Acting on the apex court's order, the CBI had questioned Kumar for several days in Shillong, starting from 19 February.
‘Dismayed Over Feud Between CBI, West Bengal Police’
The Supreme Court also expressed "disappointment and dismay" over the feud between CBI and West Bengal Police during probe into the Saradha chit fund scam case and said though the situation was "grim", there was no administrative mechanism to avoid or resolve such conflicts.
The apex court said that despite orders and words of advice, "antagonism and acrimony" has escalated between the two forces of the country.
"Due to the “clash” between the Central Bureau of Investigation and West Bengal Police, lakhs of small town and rural investors who have been deprived of their savings in the case are “at the receiving end”" - SC bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said
"They (CBI and West Bengal Police) have forgotten that the primary purpose and role of the police is to investigate crime, collect evidence and prosecute the offenders. Situation is grim as both sides have hardened their stand and there is no administrative mechanism in place to avoid and resolve such conflicts between the two wings of the police force in the country," said the bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna.
The bench noted that by slew of orders passed in the case, including the one on 5 February this year, granting protection from arrest to Kumar, the apex court had sought to "allay confrontation and clash" between the CBI and the Police Force in the State of West Bengal (WBSPF).
"With regret, we acknowledge and accept that despite orders and words of advice, antagonism and acrimony has escalated and not ebbed as is evident from the pleading and arguments addressed before us," the bench said.
"To avoid prolixity and as limited controversy arises for consideration, we are not referring the earlier orders for the purpose of the present judgment, albeit express our disappointment and dismay seeing the CBI and the WBSPF pitted and casting aspersions against each other and being embroiled in this feud," the court said.
(With inputs from PTI)
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