India / Saradha scam: Very, very serious allegations made by CBI against Kolkata’s ex-police chief, says SC

The Indian Express : Mar 26, 2019, 04:27 PM

Terming the CBI’s status report on the interrogation of former Kolkata Commissioner Rajeev Kumar in the Saradha chit fund scam “very, very serious”, the Supreme Court Tuesday asked the probe agency to file an application within 10 days to press its charges.

“There are some things in it which are very serious,” a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said. The bench, which also comprises Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, further said as the CBI’s status report was filed in a sealed cover, it cannot pass any order at the moment without hearing the other side.

“We will later determine the charges and counter-charges after hearing both sides,” the apex court said.

In its last hearing, the Supreme Court directed CBI Director Rishi Kumar Shukla to provide information in support of tampering and destruction of call data records by Kumar, who was then heading the West Bengal Special Investigation Team (SIT) while probing the chit fund case.

In an affidavit submitted to the court, the CBI had alleged that in 2009 the Centre had warned West Bengal about the possibility of chit fund companies duping people but the state government took no action and “allowed” it to thrive.

The agency also pointed to a “larger conspiracy” behind the scam, and referred to two instances to buttress its claim: first, Rs 6.21 crore given to a TV channel that is part of the Saradha Group, which is facing heat in the case; and the sale of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s paintings amounting to Rs 6.5 crore by a newspaper run by the Trinamool Congress.

The CBI had moved the Supreme Court after its officials were thwarted by the Kolkata Police when they had gone to Kumar’s official residence to question him on February 3.

Chief Minister Banerjee had rushed to the spot and staged a three-day ‘Save the Constitution’ sit-in against the CBI move, accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP national president Amit Shah of plotting a “coup”.