The Supreme Court on Friday, 17 May, withdrew protection from arrest given to former Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar in the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam, in which the Central Bureau of Investigation wanted to interrogate him in custody.
The top court said however that its 5 February order granting protection from arrest to Kumar would continue for another seven days from Friday, to enable him to approach the competent court for relief.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna asked the CBI to act in accordance with law in the case.
The Way Forward for Kumar
Kumar has another seven days before his protection from arrest from the Supreme Court runs out. This does not mean that the apex court has directed him to be arrested the moment those seven days are over. However, the CBI will be able to do that if it complies with all the relevant laws on arrest procedure and so on.
During the next seven days, Kumar has the liberty to approach the courts for other forms of protection from arrest - basically anticipatory bail under section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
An application for anticipatory bail can be made to a sessions court or high court, which means Kumar can approach either the relevant Kolkata trial court, or the Calcutta High Court. Since the trial court in this case will be a special CBI court, it is likely that he will have to approach the high court for anticipatory bail. However, a potential stumbling block for him is that the Calcutta High Court is currently not functioning due to a strike by the lawyers there.
Since he has been transferred to Delhi on the orders of the Election Commission, Kumar could try approaching the Delhi High Court for anticipatory bail, but any such application could be rejected on jurisdiction grounds.
This means that Kumar may have to try approaching the Supreme Court again for anticipatory bail, though unless he’s able to convince them that the strike necessitates this, they are also likely to reject his application.
The Investigation So Far
On 3 February, while Kumar 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 Supreme 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.
On Saturday, 6 April, the CBI had moved the apex court seeking arrest and custodial interrogation of Kumar. The investigation agency had also requested the SC to withdraw its 5 February order granting Kumar protection from arrest.
(With inputs from PTI.)
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