Saradha Chit Fund Scam: The The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which has issued a lookout circular (LoC) against ex-Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar, has now summoned the former Kolkata top cop today for questioning in connection with the Saradha ponzi scheme case. This move by CBI came shortly after the West Bengal government reinstated Kumar as the additional director general of the CID. Kumar has been asked to be present at CBI’s office in Kolkata on Monday, agency officials said.
A four-member CBI team visited Kumar’s official residence in Kolkata on Sunday evening to serve the notice after repeated efforts to contact him over phone failed, officials said. The 1989-batch IPS officer has been asked to be present at the Salt Lake office of the agency by Monday 10 am, an officer said. After failing to find Kumar at his residence on Loudon Street, the CBI officers went to Kolkata Police Deputy Commissioner (South) Meeraj Khalid’s office at nearby Park Street.
CBI officers went to the CID headquarters at Bhawani Bhawan
Later, on learning that the state government issued an order reinstating Kumar as the ADG and IGP of the CID, the CBI officers went to the CID headquarters at Bhawani Bhawan. “As our officers could not find Kumar at his official residence, they went to all these places where he could possibly be found to serve the summons. We have served the summons at all these places,” a source said.
The CBI has also issued a lookout notice against Kumar. All the airports and immigration authorities have been alerted to prevent him from leaving the country and intimate the agency about any possible move, officials said.
The agency wants custodial interrogation of Kumar in connection with the chit fund scam as he was heading the special investigation team (SIT) of the West Bengal police to probe the case before the CBI took over, the officials said.
The CBI had told the Supreme Court that custodial interrogation of Kumar was necessary, saying he was not co- operating in the probe and he was “evasive” and “arrogant” in answering the queries put to him during questioning.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for the CBI, had said Kumar was the incharge of investigation by the SIT and had allowed the release of mobile phones and laptops, which were seized from the accused and contained crucial records of alleged involvement of political functionaries in the scam.
Mehta had said the seized mobile phones and laptops were not even sent for forensic examination and material evidence were destroyed in the case.
The apex court had asked the CBI last month to furnish evidence for seeking custodial interrogation of Kumar in the Saradha case, saying it has to be satisfied that the agency’s request was “bona fide” and not for “political purposes”.
The court had on May 17 withdrawn protection given to Kumar from any arrest and had asked the CBI to proceed as per law. It gave a week’s time to Kumar to approach the competent court for anticipatory bail.
Kumar had again approached the top court last Monday, seeking extension of the protection and saying the courts in West Bengal were not functioning due to a lawyers’ strike. This petition was rejected, following which Kumar had approached a Kolkata court with an anticipatory bail.
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 after the police refused to let it enter and detained its officers.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee came in the defence of Kumar and started a sit-in to protest against the Centre’s move.
The Supreme Court had on February 5 had prevented the agency from any coercive action against Kumar and directed him 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.
The ponzi scheme scam was over Rs 2,500 crore by the Saradha group of companies, which had duped lakhs of customers promising higher rates of returns on their investment, the CBI has alleged.
Similar modus operandi was adopted by other ponzi companies like Rose Valley operating in West Bengal, Odisha and North Eastern states where gullible investors were duped, it said. The Supreme Court had ordered a CBI probe in which the agency has allegedly detected collusion of scheme operators, police personnel, politicians among others, the officials had said.