Former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar (Photo Source: PTI)
Despite a fresh CBI summon, asking him to appear before the agency in connection with the Saradha chit fund scam, former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar failed to turn up on Saturday and kept his phone switched off since morning. The ex-top cop was served a notice through email hours after a team of CBI officers failed to reach him at his Park Street on Friday evening. They also went to Kumar's present office at Bhabani Bhavan in Kolkata but could not serve the notice owing to his absence. The notice sought Kumar's presence before the central agency at 10 am this morning.
Meanwhile, officials at the Kolkata airport are directed to be on alert if his name appears on any flight passenger list, inbound or outbound. Earlier, the Calcutta High Court asked Kumar to deposit his passport with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is currently probing the Saradha chit fund case.
The fresh summon comes after the Calcutta High Court on Friday afternoon vacated its interim order granting the former city top cop protection from arrest in the Saradha chit fund scam case. The court also rejected Kumar's prayer for quashing of a CBI notice that sought his appearance for questioning in the case.
Kumar, who is currently the West Bengal CID Additional Director General, was part of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up by the state government to investigate the scam before the Supreme Court handed over the case to the CBI in 2014, along with other chitfund cases.
It has been alleged that Kumar who looked after the SIT's day to day operations till 2014, tampered with and withheld vital evidence and documents, in a bid to shield influential persons who had received cash from the Saradha Group. He was the commissioner of Bidhannagar Police when the SIT was formed to investigate the chit fund case. The Saradha group of companies allegedly duped lakhs of customers to the tune of Rs 2,500 crore, promising higher rates of return on investment.
The CBI had summoned Kumar on May 27 for questioning in connection with the Saradha ponzi scheme case, challenging which he had moved the high court, seeking quashing of the notice. A vacation bench had on May 30 granted Kumar protection from arrest and coercive action by the CBI. The protection was extended from time to time during the hearing of his petition seeking quashing of the notice.
The Supreme Court had, on May 17, withdrawn the protection from arrest to Kumar, which it had granted earlier. The CBI had in April told the top court that Kumar's custodial interrogation was necessary as he was not cooperating in the probe.
However, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has time and again came out in Kumar's support, terming the allegations against him as politically motivated and lies. "The Kolkata Police Commissioner is among the best in the world. His integrity, bravery and honesty are unquestioned…When you spread lies, the lies will always remain lies," Banerjee said.
West Bengal minister Madan Mitra, Rajya Sabha MP Kunal Ghosh and Trinamool Congress vice-president Rajat Majumdar are some of big names who were sent to jail in connection with the scam. Srinjoy Bose, another Rajya Sabha MP from Trinamool Congress was also questioned regarding the same.