Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar sitting alongside West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on a dharna has not gone down well with the Ministry of Home Affairs. The ministry has asked the Bengal government to initiate disciplinary proceedings against him.
The Bengal government is not duty bound to follow the order but this move will further escalate the tension between the state and the centre.
The Home Ministry, in a letter addressed to the Chief Secretary, West Bengal, has cited undisciplined behavior and violation of All India Services (Conduct) Rules by the officer.
"The letter dated 5 February, 2019 mentioned that as per information received by the MHA, Rajeev Kumar sat on a dharna along with some police officers with the Chief Minister, West Bengal at the Metro Channel in Kolkata. Which is prima factie in contravention of the extant provisions of AIS (Conduct) Rules. 1968/AIS (Discipline & Appeal) Rules, 1969," the letter states.
The Home Ministry communication also cited the exact provisions of the AIS (Conduct) Rules, 1968, which were reportedly flouted by Rajeev Kumar.
According to rule 3(1), "every member of the Service shall at all times maintain absolute integrity and devotion to duty and shall do nothing which is unbecoming of a member of the Service."
Rule 5(1) states that "no member of the Service shall be a member of, or be otherwise associated with, any political party or any organization which takes part in politics, nor shall he take part in, or subscribe in aid of, or assistant in any other manner, any political movement or political party."
"Rules are strict and need to be followed. Officers are not allowed to publicly criticise government or their policy," explains a senior Home Ministry officer.
According to him, the state government has also been asked to identify other officers who were part of the dharna.
The Kolkata police chief is at the heart of a huge showdown between the CBI and Mamata Banerjee, who is on Day 3 of her indefinite protest sit-in provoked by a CBI team door-stepping Rajeev Kumar on Sunday evening to question him on "missing evidence" in the Saradha and Rose Valley chit fund cases. Several members of Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress have been arrested in the cases, which were probed by a Special Investigation Team led by Rajeev Kumar.
The CBI told the Supreme Court that Rajeev Kumar's investigation "shielded guilty companies" and there was "inaction, selective action and a nexus" between the police and the accused companies. The evidence handed over by the team "is not complete and it was doctored", the CBI added in its affidavit listing allegations against the Kolkata police chief.
The top court said Mr Kumar cannot be arrested but he has to appear before the CBI in Shillong, make available all evidence and cooperate with investigations.
Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called the Supreme Court order a "victory of democracy".