CBI at Bengal cop’s door as protection from arrest ends

Soon after the Calcutta High Court on Friday withdrew interim protection from arrest given to former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar in the Saradha chit fund scam case, CBI officials reached his official residence here and served him a notice to appear before the agency on Saturday.

In a jolt to the IPS officer, the High Court withdrew the interim protection giving the CBI an immediate chance to ask him to appear before the agency in connection with the ponzi scam probe that saw thousands of people lose their hard-earned money with some pushed to the extreme point to end their lives.

A bench of Justice Madhumati Mitra refused to extend Kumar’s interim protection beyond Friday. “The application filed by the petitioner Rajeev Kumar has been heard by the court and turned down, and all the interim orders passed earlier by the honourable judges were vacated and turned down,” the CBI counsel told reporters.

The court had given the interim protection on May 30 and then extended it multiple times.

The judge observed if the investigative agency operated within the parameters of the law, then there was no need for the court to intervene. As a responsible high-ranking officer, it was Kumar’s duty to cooperate with the investigative agency, it said.

Justice Mitra, in her order, said the law does not provide for a blanket protection from arrest as it would amount to unnecessarily interfering with the investigation.

The court said the petitioner could not substantiate that the CBI was harassing or injuring his reputation and said officers holding superior rank than Kumar had been grilled by the agency.

No one was above the law and Kumar cannot seek special protection, it said.

A source said Kumar — presently posted as Additional Director General of the state CID — was on leave at present.

When the CBI officers reached Kumar’s Park Street residence, the former Kolkata Police Commissioner was not there.

“He has been asked to appear before the agency on Saturday, ” a source said.

A large number of uniformed and plain-dressed policemen from the Park Street police station were present at the spot when the CBI officials arrived there at 4.55 p.m.

The investigative agency had sent a notice to Kumar asking him to appear before it and later issued a lookout notice against him in May, alerting all airports and immigration authorities against him leaving the country.

Kumar had moved the court on May 22 seeking quashing of the CBI notice asking him to appear before the agency in connection with the multi-crore rupee Ponzi scam. He appeared before the CBI on June 7 and was grilled for several hours.

Kumar, who headed the special investigation team (SIT) as the Commissioner of Bidhannagar police that probed the Saradha scam, is accused of tampering with evidence in the case.

The CBI is seeking Kumar’s custodial interrogation, arguing certain documents seized by the SIT during the initial investigation into the scam were not handed over to it.

An unprecedented chain of events had unfolded on February 3 when a CBI team reached Kumar’s residence to question him. The team was detained and was taken to a police station before being released.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had also visited the officer’s residence and later held a 45-hour sit-in at the city hub on the issue. But in February itself, as per the Supreme Court orders, Kumar was interrogated by the CBI in Shillong.

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