The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain the petition of former Commissioner of Kolkata Police Rajeev Kumar, who had sought an extension to his protection from arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the Saradha chit fund case. Kumar's protection from arrest till a concerned jurisdictional court in West Bengal decides on his anticipatory bail plea ends on today (24 May, Friday).
Dismissing his petition, the vacation bench of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice MR Shah said that Kumar can approach the Calcutta High Court or a trial court for relief as "they are functional". "There is no vacation there (in courts of West Bengal). Seek appropriate remedy," the Supreme Court said.
The Supreme Court had granted the IPS officer protection from arrest by the CBI in the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam for seven days. Kumar had approached the top court for an extension to his protection from arrest in view of the continuing statewide lawyers' strike in West Bengal that has paralysed work in Kolkata's trial courts and the Calcutta High Court. He had sought to have his protection extended till the lawyers' stir is called off.
On 5 February, the Supreme Court had ordered Kumar to appear before the CBI and "faithfully" cooperate with the investigation of cases arising out of the scam. Earlier, the agency had told the court that they needed to interrogate Kumar in custody.
In its 17 May order, the top court had expressed concern over the confrontation between the CBI and the West Bengal Police in the Saradha chit fund case, saying that "at the receiving end are silently waiting lakhs of small-town and rural investors who have been deprived and looted of their savings".
The bench had said that the situation was grim as both sides had hardened their stand, and there was no administrative mechanism in place to prevent and resolve such conflicts between two wings of the police force in the country.
The court had also noted that the West Bengal government and Kumar have alleged "political vendetta" and had made allegations against former interim CBI director M Nageswara Rao.
In its order, the court had said the CBI had alleged non-cooperation and charged the West Bengal Police with "obfuscating investigation by causing impediments and roadblocks with a view to protect big names and members/leaders of the ruling party in the state of West Bengal".
In an affidavit submitted earlier, Kumar had alleged that the CBI was targeting him in the chit fund case with "mala fide intent" and due to "conflict of interest" of Rao as his family members were under the scanner after demonetisation.
With inputs from agencies