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Chit fund case: SC asks CBI to place evidence for custodial interrogation of Kolkata's ex-CP

The Supreme Court Tuesday asked CBI to furnish evidence for seeking custodial interrogation of former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar in Saradha chit fund case, saying it has to be satisfied that the agency's request was "bona fide" and not for "political purposes".

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday asked CBI to furnish evidence for seeking custodial interrogation of former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar in Saradha chit fund case, saying it has to be satisfied that the agency's request was "bona fide" and not for "political purposes".

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said CBI has to place material which can "even very remotely" show that Kumar, who was earlier heading West Bengal Police SIT probing the chit fund scam, has something to do with either destruction or disappearance of evidence related to the case.

"We have to be satisfied that you (CBI) are seeking this (custodial interrogation of Kumar) in bona fide interest of justice and not for political purposes," said the bench, which also comprised Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for CBI, said he would file the evidence by tomorrow.

The bench said that it will take up the matter for further hearing on Wednesday.

During the hearing, the bench told Mehta, "All you have to show us is that this man (Kumar) has something to do, even very remotely, with disappearance or destruction of evidence".

Mehta told the court that custodial interrogation of Kumar was necessary as he was not cooperating in the probe and he was "evasive" and "arrogant" in answering the queries put to him during his questioning by the CBI.

He said Kumar was the in-charge of investigation by the SIT and had allowed the release of mobile phones and laptops, containing crucial records of alleged involvement of political functionaries in the scam, which were seized from the accused.

He said that the seized mobile phones and laptops were not even sent for forensic examination and material evidence were destroyed in the case.

Mehta said that entire call detail records (CDRs) of certain phone numbers, which were provided to SIT by telephone service providers, was not shared with the CBI.

"He (Kumar) is virtually a party to destruction of evidence," he said.

Mehta told the court about some missing evidence, including a diary which allegedly contain records of cash payment to influential persons in the scam, and said that CBI want to interrogate Kumar on these crucial aspects of the case.

"The allegation is that in the name of this ponzi scam, blackmoney of high and might was being moved," he said.

He said that when the CBI team had gone to interrogate Kumar at his residence in Kolkata, the local police had "ambushed" the CBI officers.

"What was there in the residence of Kumar which prompted him to virtually attack the CBI team. What was that? CBI team had gone to his residence for questioning," he said.
To this, the bench asked, "You (CBI) had gone there without any search notice?"

Mehta, who replied in the affirmative to the court's query, said, "What prompted that sudden 'dharna' where police official was sitting with the Chief Minister? That 'dharna' place became a secretariat".

During the hearing, the bench told Mehta that if the CBI would justify that Kumar has not cooperated in the probe, then it can permit the agency to have his custodial interrogation.

Mehta told the court that after questioning Kumar in the case, the CBI team has reached to a conclusion that he was not cooperating, "he gave clean chit to influential persons" and tried to shift the blame to either his senior or junior officers.

The bench observed that Kumar was not an investigating officer in the case and was only heading the SIT and CBI has to "show on record" that he was a party in either destruction or disappearance of evidence.

"We want to satisfy ourselves that this man, whose custodial interrogation you are seeking, has to role to play either in destruction or disappearance of evidence," the bench told Mehta.

The court was hearing CBI's application in which the agency, which was asked by the apex court to investigate the case, was seeking custodial interrogation of Kumar on grounds that he had given evasive replies during questioning.

Earlier, Kumar had alleged that he was targeted by CBI in the chit fund case due to "mala fide intent" and "conflict of interest" of former interim CBI director M Nageshwara Rao as his family members were under the scanner post-demonetisation.

Kumar had alleged that post demonetisation in November 2016, investigation was initiated into some shell companies that prima facie were involved in receiving huge deposits and a FIR was registered.

The apex court had earlier termed as "very very serious" the revelations made by the CBI in its status report relating to the interrogation of Kumar.

The court, on February 5, had granted protection from arrest to Kumar while directing him to appear before the CBI and "faithfully" cooperating into the investigation of cases arising out of the scam.