CBI in pick and choose game in summoning me: Ex-top cop Rajiv Kumar to Calcutta HC

New Delhi: Former Kolkata Police commissioner Rajeev Kumar Wednesday told the Calcutta High Court that the CBI was indulging in a pick and choose game by summoning him in the Saradha ponzi scam case among 121 officers of the SIT that probed the fraud on lakhs of investors.

Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar today told the Calcutta High Court that the CBI was indulging in a pick and choose game by summoning him in the Saradha ponzi scam case among 121 officers of the SIT that probed the fraud on lakhs of investors

Kumar’s counsel Milan Mukherjee submitted that he looked after the day to day operations of an SIT formed by the West Bengal government to investigate ponzi scams, but the CBI did not consider calling him as a witness till October 2017.Mukherjee claimed before the court of Justice Madhumati Mitra that he could have been the star witness for the CBI, but was not considered for the role for three and a half years since it took over investigation.

Kumar, now additional director general of West Bengal CID, moved the high court seeking quashing of a notice issued to him in May by the CBI to appear before it for assisting the investigation into the case.

The court adjourned hearing in the matter till Thursday, when it will be taken up for hearing again. Mukherjee submitted that Kumar was the commissioner of Bidhananagar Police when the multi-crore Saradha ponzi scam broke out in 2013 and looked after the day to day operations of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the scam.

The Supreme Court had on May 9, 2014, ordered transfer of all cases related to ponzi scams, including the one involving Saradha Group, to the CBI. Mukherjee wondered whether the CBI is indulging in a pick and choose game to harass Kumar as he was one of 121 officers involved in the state SIT investigation.

Kumar’s counsel claimed that the CBI has not been able to unearth a single rupee from the money trail in the scam since beginning its probe in November 2014. He also claimed that there were violations of provisions of SEBI Act, RBI Act and IT Act in the scam, but these angles were not investigated by the CBI, despite the SIT having provided it with leads into alleged complicity of some officers of the capital market regulator.

A vacation bench of the high court had on May 30 granted Kumar protection from arrest and any coercive action till July 10 in the Saradha chit fund scam case. The protection from arrest was later extended to July 22. The bench had directed Kumar to cooperate with the CBI investigation into the 2,500 crore Saradha scam.

Kumar’s counsels had earlier told the high court that he has been interrogated by the CBI for 39 hours and 45 minutes in Shillong, and claimed that the probe agency was now seeking to take him in custody out of “vendetta”. They maintained that Kumar has neither been named as an accused nor as a witness in the seven charge sheets the probe agency has filed in the case so far.

On May 17, the Supreme Court had withdrawn protection from arrest to Kumar, which it had granted earlier. In January, the Centre and the state government had faced an unprecedented standoff after a CBI team, which reached the residence of Kumar for questioning, had to retreat following intervention by the Kolkata Police, of which he was the commissioner then.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee came out in Kumar’s defence and launched a sit-in to protest in the city against the Centre’s move. On February 5, the Supreme Court had prevented the agency from any coercive action against Kumar, while directing the former top cop to appear and co-operate in CBI questioning at a “neutral place”. He was questioned by the CBI for nearly five days in Shillong from February 9.

Kumar, who was appointed Commissioner of Police at Bidhannagar Police Commissionerate in 2012, had served as the head of the state-appointed SIT, which probed the ponzi scams before the CBI took over. The CBI had told the Supreme Court in April this year that Kumar’s custodial interrogation was necessary as he was not cooperating in the probe and was “evasive” and “arrogant” in answering the queries put to him.

As part of the Rs 2,500-crore scam, the Saradha group of companies duped lakhs of customers, promising higher rates of returns on their investment, the agency said.