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Saradha chit fund case: Cal HC grants protection from arrest

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Press Trust of India Kolkata
The Calcutta High Court Thursday granted protection from arrest and any coercive action till July 10 to West Bengal CID Additional Director General Rajeev Kumar in the Saradha chit fund scam case.
The vacation bench of the court granted him a month's protection from June 10, when the court will reopen after summer break, and directed Kumar to deposit his passport within 24 hours of the passing of the order.
The former Kolkata police commissioner has also been asked to cooperate with the CBI investigation into the multi- crore chit fund case.
The court ordered the probe agency to send a designated officer to Kumar's residence every day at 4 pm to record his attendance.
Justice Pratik Prakash Banerjee ruled that the petition will appear before a regular bench on June 12 after the court reopens following a summer vacation.
Kumar moved the Calcutta High Court Thursday, seeking quashing of the CBI notice served on him over alleged suppression of facts in the Saradha chit fund scam case.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had served a notice on Kumar asking him to appear before it for assisting the investigation into the case.
The former Kolkata top cop's counsel Sudipto Moitra submitted that the CBI was seeking to put him behind bars in connection with the chit fund case, without taking recourse to proper legal procedure.
Submitting that Kumar was interrogated by the CBI for 39 hours and 45 minutes in Shillong, Moitra said the probe agency was now seeking to take him in custody out of "vendetta".
He maintained that Kumar has neither been named as an accused nor as a witness in the seven charge sheets the probe agency has filed in the case so far.
CBI lawyer Y J Dastur submitted before the court that Kumar has prevaricating answers to the questions posed by the agency in connection with the seizure of documents by a Special Investigation Team (SIT), set up by the state government.
Dastur also said that Kumar, who was then the commissioner of Bidhannagar Police, was entrusted with day- to-day functioning of the SIT probing the Saradha scam.
The CBI counsel insisted that the agency cannot be accused of malafide since he was given ample time to appear before it for assisting the probe.
Kumar, a former commissioner of the Kolkata Police, was appointed ADG, CID, by the Mamata Banerjee-led government before the Lok Sabha election.
He was, however, removed by the Election Commission during the poll process and was attached to the Home Ministry in New Delhi.
The state government reinstated him following the withdrawal of the model code of conduct.
On May 17, the Supreme Court had withdrawn protection from arrest to Kumar, which it had granted earlier.
The apex court last week dismissed a plea of Kumar seeking extension of protection from arrest.
A vacation bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Arun Mishra, said Kumar can approach the Calcutta High Court or a trial court here for seeking relief in the case.
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 following intervention by the Kolkata Police, of which he was the commissioner then.
Chief Minister Banerjee came out in Kumar's defence and launched a sit-in to protest in the city against the Centre's move.
On February 5, the Supreme Court had prevented the agency from any coercive action against Kumar, while directing the former police commissioner 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.
Kumar, who was appointed Commissioner of Police at Bidhan Nagar Police Commissionerate in 2012, had served as the head of the state-appointed SIT, which probed the ponzi scams before the CBI took over.
Last month, the CBI had told the Supreme Court that Kumar's custodial interrogation was necessary as he was not cooperating in the probe and was "evasive" and "arrogant" in answering the queries put to him.
As part of the Rs 2,500-crore scam, the Saradha group of companies duped lakhs of customers, promising higher rates of returns on their investment, the agency said.
Similar modus operandi was adopted by other ponzi companies like Rose Valley operating in West Bengal, Odisha and northeastern states where gullible investors were duped, it added.

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First Published: May 30 2019 | 7:15 PM IST

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