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Jolt to CBI, Calcutta HC grants ex-police chief Rajeev Kumar protection from arrest

The court asked Rajeev Kumar to furnish a personal bond of Rs 50,000 and two persons as surety in order to get the relief.

SNS | New Delhi |

In a major setback for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court on Tuesday granted anticipatory bail to former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar in the Saradha chit fund scam case.

The court asked Kumar, who is presently the Additional Director General, West Bengal Criminal Investigation Department, to furnish a personal bond of Rs 50,000 and two persons as surety in order to get the relief.

The bench of Justices S Munshi and S Dasgupta further ordered Kumar to present himself before the CBI whenever they summoned him for questioning related to the multi-crore scam probe.

At the same time, the court asked the CBI to give a 48-hour notice to Kumar whenever they wanted to question him as part of the probe.

The judges did not find merit in the CBI plea for Kumar’s custodial interrogation at this stage of the interrogation and said he would be granted bail immediately if the probe agency arrested him in connection with the case.

The court, however, said that the CBI was free to move an appeal to a higher judiciary against the order.

Rajeev Kumar had earlier moved an anticipatory bail petition stating that “the CBI is hounding him like anything.”

At this point, the Division Bench of Justice Sahidullah Munshi and Justice Subhasis Dasgupta had asked him to “go and surrender”.

The CBI had failed to track the whereabouts of the former police commissioner.

The CBI has been trying to take Kumar – the head of the Special Investigation Team set up by the state government to probe the Saradha scam in 2013 – into custody for interrogation since September 13, when the Calcutta High Court withdrew its earlier order giving him interim protection from arrest.

Kumar has only made himself available twice before the central agency so far, in Shillong in February earlier this year and in May, as against 18 summons issued to him, that too under an interim arrest shield from the apex court and Calcutta High Court as well.

The Supreme Court had on 17 May vacated the interim protection extended to Rajeev Kumar from arrest by the CBI over his alleged role in destroying evidence in the chit fund case.

The agency has claimed that the ex-police chief had destroyed the evidence in the chit fund scam when he headed the SIT. It further said the copies of call records handed over by SIT to CBI were doctored.