The Supreme Court on Wednesday, 27 February, directed CBI Director Rishi Kumar Shukla to file an affidavit giving details about the alleged contempt committed by West Bengal cops and the then Kolkata Police chief Rajeev Kumar in connection with Saradha chit fund scam cases.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna asked the CBI director to provide information in support of the allegations of tampering and destruction of call data records (CDRs) by Kumar, who was then heading the West Bengal SIT.
The bench said the affidavit has to be filed within two weeks and posted the matter for further hearing on 26 March.
The apex court said the allegations made by the CBI were serious enough and it was an “obligation” on part of the agency to disclose full details of the alleged contempt committed by the then police commissioner.
The bench passed the order after hearing the submissions of Attorney General KK Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who were showered with several questions for delay on the part of CBI to move 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 3 February incident in which the CBI sleuths, who had gone to probe the then Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar at his residence, were taken into custody and allegedly manhandled by the West Bengal Police.
Though the apex court took note of the 3 February incident, in which the top cops of the state police allegedly sat with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on a dharna, it was annoyed as to why the CBI did not bring to its notice the tampering of the CDRs when it happened in June 2018.
“We want to go step by step. You said it happened in June 2018. If it happened, it is serious. What did you do since June 2018. What stopped you from coming to this court when you yourself said that this happened in June 2018,” the bench said.
"Don't you think the matter is serious enough to take confidence of the court. Is it not subversion of rule of law. All this happened in June 2018," the bench asked the law officers and went ahead "was it not your obligation to inform this court.”
In the order, the bench said "considering the submissions made by the attorney general and the solicitor general, we are of the view it is obligatory on the part of the CBI to disclose full facts of the acts on the part of the (then) Kolkata police commissioner in furnishing the CDRs.”
"Attorney general as well as the solicitor general has relied upon the arguments of tampering with the CDRs to convince this court to accept their statement that incomplete and incorrect CDRs were provided by Rajeev Kumar (then Kolkata Police commissioner)." Further, the bench said: "We are not in a position to act on the basis of oral submissions. Rather we would require full and complete information by way of affidavit by an officer no less than director, CBI."
The solicitor general replied, saying that notice was sent to Kumar, and the agency also analysed the CDRs and found that there were tampering with it and that CDRs were doctored.
The bench wanted to know why the allegations of tampering with the CDRs was not there in it first affidavit and when did it first receive the report about the entire CDRs.
Mehta said it took two-and-half months to get the report after the analysis and there was no cooperation from the state police in the probe, which had also not registered a regular case from the FIR filed at Durgapur against the owners of the Rose Valley chit fund.
However, the bench expressed dissatisfaction that all documents were not placed before it by the CBI to make the case of contempt of court and also that the CDRs were incomplete.
"What are the acts that amount to contempt of court by the (then) Kolkata Police Commissioner (Rajeev Kumar). Is it only confined to the February 3 incident," the bench asked the two senior-most law officers.
Both of them said they will file additional affidavit to address the concern of the court and the attorney general further elaborated how the agency got the CDRs from the service providersf, which accepted the CBI's request only after a letter was issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the report came in November 2018.
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