Former Kolkata police chief Rajeev Kumar could be arrested today if he appears for questioning by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the Saradha chit fund scam today, sources told NDTV. The officer - over whose questioning Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee held a 70-hour protest on the streets of Kolkata -- has been to join investigation asked by the CBI. A formal summon has been issued to him and CBI teams have visited his office and home.
The 1989-batch IPS officer is accused of destroying evidence related to the Ponzi scheme when he was heading the probe.
In February, a team of CBI officers was stopped from entering Mr Kumar's home in Kolkata when they had gone to question him in connection with the Ponzi scams. The move had prompted Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to go on a sit-in protest against what she called an "attack on constitutional norms".
Earlier on Sunday, the CBI said Mr Kumar should not be allowed to leave the country and issued a lookout notice to airports and ports. The agency's crackdown came after the Supreme Court, on Friday, refused to entertain Mr Kumar's plea seeking extension of protection from arrest in the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam.
The former police commissioner had been granted protection from arrest for a seven-day period which ended on May 24.
"As the Supreme Court's seven-day period ended on Friday and no court has given anticipatory bail to Kumar yet, the CBI is free to proceed for custodial interrogation of Kumar," a top official of the CBI told NDTV, requesting not to be named.
The CBI had told the Supreme Court, which had asked the agency to investigate the scandal, that it wanted custodial interrogation of Mr Kumar. There was preliminary evidence of him allegedly trying to destroy or tamper with evidence and "shield high and mighty" in the case, CBI said.
Rajeev Kumar's lawyer had told the Supreme Court that the agency wanted his custodial interrogation "just to humiliate" him and it should not be allowed to abuse the process of law.
A week later Mamata Banerjee's protest, the CBI -- acting on the Supreme Court's order -- questioned Rajeev Kumar for five days in Shillong. The top court had, however, ordered that no coercive action can be taken against Rajeev Kumar and he cannot be arrested.
Mr Kumar was then transferred to the Crime Investigation Department (CID) of the West Bengal Police. On May 16, he was moved to the Union Home Ministry in Delhi by the Election Commission after violence during a rally by BJP chief Amit Shah in Kolkata. He reported for duty at the Home Ministry on Thursday but went on leave the same day. On Sunday, with the end of the poll body's model code of conduct, he got his Bengal posting back.
The Saradha scam was a major financial fraud which lured lakhs of investors to deposit money in its schemes with glossy brochures and the promise of abnormally high returns. An official estimate says Saradha had mopped up about Rs. 1,200 crore through its chit funds, but some calculations put that the figure closer to Rs. 4,000 crore. The company collapsed in April 2013.
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