- Rajeev Kumar "potential accused" in probe into chit fund scams: centre
- Government asked court to order Rajeev Kumar to surrender all evidence
- Rajeev Kumar probed the Saradha and Rose Valley chit fund cases
Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar is a "potential accused" in the investigation into chit fund scams in Bengal, the central government told the Supreme Court today in a flashpoint with the Mamata Banerjee government in the state.
"There are some extraordinary circumstances. The CBI Joint Director was held hostage at CBI office yesterday. We apprehend that electronic evidence might be destroyed," the centre's lawyer Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General of India, told the Supreme Court a morning after Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee launched her protest over CBI officers trying to question her police chief.
The government asked the court to order Rajeev Kumar to surrender all the evidence he had, expressing the worry that he may try to destroy electronic evidence.
Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said there is "no evidence that Kolkata police is destroying evidence" and added: "Lay down evidence and if the police commissioner is even remotely trying to destroy evidence, we will come down so heavily on him that he will regret it".
The Supreme Court will take up the petition tomorrow.
Appearing for West Bengal government, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi told the Supreme Court that it is witch hunt by the CBI as the Kolkata police chief is a witness and not an accused in the case. But, the bench told him to keep ready the defences of state government ready tomorrow, when it will hear the case.
Around 40 CBI officers arrived at the Kolkata police commissioner's home last evening, alleged the state's ruling Trinamool Congress, adding that they tried to question him without a warrant.
Rajeev Kumar investigated the Saradha and Rose Valley chit fund cases in which several members of Mamata Banerjee's party have been charged or arrested.
The CBI alleges that the police chief had not responded to its repeated summons over the past two years; he had also skipped an Election Commission meeting on poll preparations, spurring talk about Mr Kumar "absconding".
The CBI's interim boss, M Nageswara Rao, had said yesterday: "Did we commit any crime?"
The agency says the West Bengal government is trying to block investigations ordered by the Supreme Court.
Mamata Banerjee is sitting on a dharna, accusing the ruling BJP at the centre of orchestrating a CBI team's visit to the Kolkata top cop's home in a larger fight for dominance in Bengal. The Kolkata police refused to let the CBI officers enter and temporarily detained them at a police station.
Rajeev Kumar - who headed the Special Investigation Team probing the Saradha and Rose Valley Ponzi scams that surfaced in 2013 - was asked to help with the investigation after several key documents allegedly went missing.
Mamata Banerjee held a press meet in the evening at Rajeev Kumar's home and alleged a "complete constitutional breakdown". She lashed out at the centre for misusing the central agencies and demanded to know how they could come to a police commissioner's home "without a warrant".
(With inputs from PTI)