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Calcutta HC lifts Rajeev Kumar's arrest shield; CBI pays him visit

Calcutta HC lifts Rajeev Kumars   arrest shield; CBI pays him visit

New Delhi: As the Calcutta High Court on Friday lifted former Kolkata top-cop Rajeev Kumar's arrest shield, officials from the CBI reached his residence, rising apprehensions of an impending arrest in connection with allegations of evidence tampering in the Saradha chit fund probe.

However, sources here said that the investigators had visited his Park Street residence to mark his attendance as they have been doing every day since the Calcutta High Court order on May 30 this year had mandated them to do so.

They added that no fresh summons had been issued to Kumar to appear before agency officials in the Saradha case.

However, in light of the CBI's stand on allegations against Kumar, the agency is expected to resume its line of enquiry with respect to both the Rose Valley and Saradha cases. The recent order from the Calcutta High Court also dismissed Kumar's plea seeking to quash the earlier summons issued to him by the central probe agency in connection with the Saradha chit fund probe. The CBI had summoned the former head of the SIT that was initially investigating the Rs 2,500 crore chit fund scam on May 27, after which Kumar had approached the High Court in Kolkata on May 30 seeking protection from arrest and quashing of the summons. He had told the court that CBI was singling him out in the case investigators in the central agency were not looking at any of the more than 100 officials who were part of the SIT.

The allegation against Kumar, as levelled by the CBI is that when the Supreme Court of India had ordered that the chit fund cases be transferred to the CBI, Kumar had allegedly deliberately not handed over crucial evidence in the form of Call Data Records (CDR) and other documents pertaining to the case, purportedly in an attempt to shield some powerful people.

While Kumar has maintained that the CBI is harassing him and trying to tarnish his reputation because of a probe he had spearheaded involving the wife of former CBI Interim-Director Nageswar Rao's wife, Justice Madhumati Mitra said that his counsel could not substantiate this. Justice Mitra also added that the allegation that Kumar is being singled out cannot be admitted because the central agency has interrogated officials superior to him in rank in connection with the case.

Kumar's battle with the CBI came to light when officials from the agency had arrived in Kolkata, purportedly to arrest him in February this year. The drama peaked as Kolkata Police officials detained the CBI officials and CM Mamata Banerjee sat on a dharna against the central agency's alleged breach of the federal structure. The matter had reached the Apex Court which withdrew his protection from arrest in April this year, asking Kumar to approach the Calcutta High Court for further relief, which kept extending his arrest shield from time to time since May 2019.

However, Justice Mitra, while pronouncing the most recent order noted that Kumar has not yet been named as an accused and remains to be a witness in the case, adding that the CBI should be allowed to investigate as per provisions of the law. The CBI had previously interrogated Kumar in Shillong and since the Calcutta HC order directing him to deposit his passport and cooperate with the investigation, the former Kolkata Police Commissioner has been duly present for attendance marking every day.

Abhinay Lakshman

Abhinay Lakshman

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