The former top cop of Kolkata, Rajeev Kumar failed to appear before the CBI on Saturday for questioning in the Saradha scam, officials said. Kumar had reportedly sought more time to appear before the investigating officer in the case but that request is yet to be accepted by the CBI, they said.
Sources said that the possibility of Kumar’s arrest cannot be ruled out, but no final decision has been taken yet. After the Calcutta High Court withdrew his protection from arrest, the CBI on Friday served a notice to Kumar, asking him to appear before the investigating team on Saturday.
Kumar is currently the West Bengal CID Additional Director General and was part of a special investigation team set up by the state government to investigate the Saradha scam before the Supreme Court handed over the case to the CBI in 2014, along with other chit fund cases.
The Saradha group of companies allegedly duped lakhs of people to the tune of Rs2,500 crore, promising higher rate of returns on their investments. In May, the Supreme Court declined Kumar’s petition seeking extension of protection from arrest in the multi-crore scam.
Kumar was granted protection from arrest on May 17 by the top court for seven days and he had filed a fresh petition seeking to restrain the CBI from taking any coercive action against him.
However, a vacation bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra had said Kumar’s plea was not “maintainable” as a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had already passed an order in the matter on May 17.
The bench, also comprising justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant, said that Kumar can personally approach the Calcutta High Court or the trial court seeking relief in the case. But on Friday, the Calcutta High Court vacated its interim order granting the former police commissioner protection from arrest. The court also rejected Kumar’s plea for cancellation of a CBI notice that sought his appearance for questioning in the case.
Kumar had been embroiled in a controversy for being at loggerheads with the CBI over its investigations into the Saradha chit fund and Rose Valley scams. On February 3, 2019, a team of CBI officers was stopped from entering the residence of Kumar, who was at the time the city police chief, when they had gone to question him in connection with the scam cases. The move had led Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to sit on a dharna in the heart of the city, protesting against the CBI’s act. The CBI officers’ raid on Rajeev Kumar was, according to Banerjee “an attack on constitutional norms”. The Supreme Court on 5 February asked the Kolkata Police commissioner Rajeev Kumar to appear before the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and cooperate with its investigation into the Saradha chit fund scam.