The Supreme Court on Monday rejected the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) plea to conduct an urgent hearing pertaining to investigation in the Saradha and Rose Valley chit fund scam. The apex court bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said that it did not find anything in the application regarding destruction of evidence. The bench posted the matter for hearing on Tuesday.
The plea comes hours after West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee took on the Centre following a visit by a CBI team to Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar's residence. Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi posted the matter for hearing at 10.30 am tomorrow.
The CBI approached the Supreme Court against the "non-cooperation" of the West Bengal government after the Kolkata Police detained and then released CBI officials who visited Kolkata to question Rajeev Kumar. Solicitor general Tushar Mehta, who is representing CBI in the court that these were "some extraordinary circumstances", reported Bar and Bench.
Reports have said that the CBI will move the Supreme Court on Tuesday to seek contempt proceedings against West Bengal chief secretary Malay Kumar De, DGP Virendra and Rajeev Kumar. It will also seek a directive for the Kolkata Police Commissioner to join the investigation.
"The CBI joint director was held hostage at the CBI office (in Kolkata's Salt Lake) on Sunday. We apprehend that electronic evidence might be destroyed," Bar and Bench quoted Mehta as having said.
"When did you file your plea? This morning. And we've already read it. In fact, we were late to the court by a few minutes because we were reading your applications. And there's no evidence of what you're saying right now," said the Chief Justice.
"Give us the evidence if you fear tampering," News18 reported Gogoi as having said to Mehta.
The Supreme Court, in a 2014 order, reports Bar and Bench, had handed over the responsibility of probing the Saradha chit fund scam to the CBI and had directed the state government authorities to cooperate in the investigation.
However, in November 2018, in the wake of the infighting within the CBI, West Bengal was one of several states to withdraw general consent for CBI investigations in the state without prior permission from the state government.
Who is Rajeev Kumar?
A 1989-batch IPS officer, Rajeev Kumar was heading the Special Investigation Team formed by the West Bengal government to look into the Saradha and Rose Valley chit fund scams.
He had been summoned for questioning by the CBI on four occasions after some documents related to the scams went missing. Kumar allegedly ignored these summons. The CBI has accused him of "destroying evidence against himself," reports say. He is the first Kolkata police chief who has an office at the Bengal secretariat, reported News18. Kumar is skilled in electronic surveillance.
Pressing for the matter to be listed at 2 pm on Monday itself, Mehta added, "An uniformed officer sat on a dharna with a political party." Mehta may have been referring to Kumar's presence at the venue of Mamata Banerjee's dharna at the Metro Channel in Kolkata. West Bengal DGP Virendra and the state's security adviser Surajit Kar Purkayastha were also present at the location.
The Chief Justice, however, asked what the "urgency" was and said that there was nothing in the Centre's interim application on destruction of evidence, reported News18. He then proceeded to list the matter for hearing on Tuesday morning.
He also added a slight rebuke to Mehta over his urgency, adding, "Normally, the Solicitor General is the first to mention. Today, he will be the last. Please wait."
Lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the Mamata Banerjee government, was present as well.
In #MamataVsCBI, both sides were ready to move the #SupremeCourt midnight.#CBI planned to come if its officers were arrested and #WestBengal Govt intended to come had the Union used central forces. Since none of these happened, they decided to wait till morning.
— Utkarsh Anand (@utkarsh_aanand) February 4, 2019
In the last few years, the CBI has arrested Trinamool Congress leaders Madan Mitra, Sudip Bandhopadhya and Tapas Pal in connection with their involvement with the scams.
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Updated Date: Feb 04, 2019 14:26:34 IST