Kolkata Police Chief Can’t be Arrested but Must Cooperate: Supreme Court

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Supreme Court of India.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has welcomed the Supreme Court verdict and described the order to the CBI not to arrest Kolkata top cop a “moral victory”.

NEW DELHI (IANS) — The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar to appear before the CBI and faithfully co-operate in the probe into the Saradha chit fund scam but said he must not be arrested.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Sanjiv Khanna said the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) must not resort to any coercive action, including arresting the officer.

Investigation would take place at a neutral place — in Shillong. 

The court also sought responses from the West Bengal Chief Secretary, the Director General of Police and Rajeev Kumar on a contempt petition moved on Monday by the CBI along with the one asking for direction to Rajeev Kumar to surrender for questioning. 

During the hearing, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal described the situation as “a total breakdown of constitutional machinery” and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta highlighted that CBI personnel were detained at a police station. 

Appearing for the Kolkata Police Commissioner, senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi told the court: “They have asked for surrender when no offence is made out. 

“Rajeev Kumar is vilified. He has written to the CBI to meet at a neutral place where the entire SIT will be there to be questioned,” Singhvi told the court. 

Justice Gogoi said: “The problem with you is you assume too many things. What is your problem, you can cooperate.”

The next hearing will be on February 20. 

Moral victory

Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has welcomed the Supreme Court verdict in a CBI plea against Kolkata Police chief Rajeev Kumar and described the order to the CBI not to arrest him a “moral victory”.

The apex court directed Kumar to appear before the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with the Saradha cheat fund case at a “mutual place” and asked the agency not to take any coercive action against the officer, including arrest.

“It is our moral victory. We said we have full respect for the judiciary and institutions,” Banerjee told the media from the dais of her sit-in protest here.

“This order was passed earlier also that they can talk mutually in a mutual place. We are grateful for the verdict.

“Rajeev Kumar never said he would not cooperate. He gave five letters to the CBI asking the officials to meet him at a mutual place but they went to his house to arrest him in a secret operation.

“Today the court said no arrest… We welcome the verdict. It will strengthen the morale of the officials,” Banerjee said.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee continued her sit-in on an arterial city road on Tuesday.

In an unprecedented confrontation with the Modi government, Banerjee began a sit-in late on Sunday in Kolkata accusing the Centre of trying to run a parallel administration in states, saying there is a “constitutional break-down” after an ugly face-off between the CBI and the state police.

The showdown started after the federal probe agency’s officers showed up near the residence of Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar, who has been under the scanner in connection with the CBI probe into the Ponzi scheme scam case.

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