New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday withdrew its order granting protection from arrest to former Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar in the Saradha chit fund scam case. The apex court said its February 5 order granting interim protection to Kumar will continue for seven days from Friday to enable him to approach the competent court for legal remedy.
“We have withdrawn the protection given to Rajeev Kumar vide order dated February 5. We are leaving it to the CBI to act in accordance with law,”a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said. “Our February 5 order will continue for seven days from today to enable Rajeev Kumar to approach the competent court for relief,” he added.
The judgement was pronounced by Justice Sanjiv Khanna who was part of the bench headed by the CJI and Justice Deepak Gupta.
While arguing the case, senior counsel Indira Jaising, appearing for the officer, argued that the CBI was being vindictive and had cooked up a false case against Kumar. She referred to Kumar’s unblemished career to support her argument and said he was a decorated officer and no doubt had ever been cast on his integrity.
Kumar was awarded the President’s Medal in 2015, after due diligence and scrutiny by the Home Ministry to select a candidate who had not been implicated in a case or departmental inquiry, she added.
Meanwhile, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CBI, insisted that the agency was not hounding Kumar. “We asked them a simple question regarding the FSL report of the electronic devices seized during the investigation but they did not give us any report,” he said.
He also noted it was impossible to establish the authenticity of electronic data seized during the scam in the absence of a forensic science laboratory (FSL) report. Insisting that the FSL report was crucial to solve the case, he said, “We have been demanding it since the case was handed over to the CBI. How do we know that mobiles, laptops, pen drives have not been compromised?”
At this, Jaising said the data was seized by different agencies — the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), the Assam Police and the Enforcement Directorate — and not by the West Bengal Police alone.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had filed a petition in the SC seeking recall of its February 5, 2019 order granting interim protection from arrest to Kumar. The probe agency had said it wanted to interrogate Kumar regarding allegations of trying to tamper with evidence in the case and ‘shield high and mighty’.
(With agency inputs)