Supreme Court judge, Justice L Nageswara Rao, today recused himself from hearing the CBI's plea alleging obstruction in its probe into the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam probe by West Bengal authorities.
A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Rao and Sanjiv Khanna adjourned the hearing on pleas of the CBI, saying that one of the judges was not inclined to be part of the bench to hear the matter.
Justice Rao said he had appeared for the state as a lawyer and therefore cannot hear the case.
The bench has now posted the matter for hearing on February 27 before an appropriate bench of which Justice Rao is not a part.
On February 18, West Bengal Chief secretary Malay Kumar De, DGP Virendera Kumar and then Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar filed separate affidavits in the top court on the contempt petition moved by the CBI in connection with the scam and had tendered "unconditional and unambiguous apology".
The West Bengal government and its police had refuted CBI allegations in the court that they obstructed investigation into the Saradha chit fund scam cases, with the state cops charging that the central agency forcefully tried to enter the Kolkata police commissioner's residence on February 3 without valid papers.
The three said the West Bengal government and the state police at no point of time obstructed investigation nor any official denied cooperation to CBI.
The officers had opposed the contempt petition against them in which CBI alleged that they were tampering with evidence and not complying with the court's various orders relating to the probe by asserting that there was a need for directions to the probe agency not to make any vague allegations without substantial and cogent evidence.
Referring to the February 3 incident, Mr Kumar had said in his affidavit that CBI "forcibly" tried to enter his house without valid papers. The contention has been supported by the DGP in his affidavit.
They had also claimed that no police official went on 'dharna manch' where West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee sat to protest the CBI action.
Mr Kumar said it is "very intriguing" as to why a major decision by the CBI was taken to interrogate him on February 3, which was the last day in office of then interim CBI director M Nageswara Rao.
Mr Kumar, against whom CBI has alleged tampering of electronic evidence including call detail records, had said he was never in direct possession of evidence, material or documents.