Saradha chit fund scam: CBI, West Bengal govt. spar over contempt case

Agency plea in SC against ex-Kolkata police chief in chit fund scam case

Updated - February 23, 2021 06:55 pm IST

Published - February 23, 2021 03:32 pm IST - New Delhi

Former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar. File

Former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar. File

The Supreme Court on Tuesday posted a contempt case filed by the CBI against former Kolkata Police chief Rajeev Kumar and others in connection with Saradha chit fund scam case, for hearing after two weeks.

The West Bengal government told a Bench led by Justice S. Abdul Nazeer that the “age-old” contempt case has “come alive” before the Assembly elections in the State.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for CBI, retorted that “contempt always remains alive”.

The CBI, had filed the contempt plea on February 4, 2019 against Mr. Kumar, former State chief secretary Malay Kumar De and DGP Virendra. The agency had accused them of non-cooperation.

The agency also sought the cancellation of Mr. Kumar’s bail and his custodial interrogation as he was “evasive during questioning”.

The Saradha group of companies allegedly duped lakhs of people of around ₹2,500 crore, promising higher rates of return on their investments. The scam was unearthed in 2013 during Mr. Kumar’s tenure as the Bidhannagar Police Commissioner.

The CBI had informed the court that Mr. Kumar was the “functional head” of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed by the West Bengal government which investigated the chit fund cases, including the multi-crore Saradha and Rose Valley scams, before they were transferred by the Supreme Court to the CBI on May 9, 2014.

The agency had alleged that powerful persons in politics and the police were linked to the chit fund scam. The agency had even accused Mr. Kumar of tampering with evidence.

“We found that some of the documents handed over to the CBI by Mr. Kumar were doctored. They were not all there. We summoned him, but he did not come. We wrote the DGP, there was no response. The cell phone of Mr. Sudipto Sen (main accused in Saradha scam) was returned to him by the SIT. Call records were not complete. Discrepancies were seen in the number of calls. Information on who called and to whom are missing... The call records were doctored,” Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, also for CBI, had submitted in the apex court during a hearing in 2019.

This court hearing in 2019 was held just days after a CBI team, who went to question Mr. Kumar at his residence, was detained by the Kolkata Police and released later in the night. The hearing had also coincided with a sit-in held by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee against the Narendra Modi-government on the issue.

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