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Centre moves SC over Kolkata Police row, SC defers hearing to Tuesday

Appearing for Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, today urged the Supreme Court (SC) for urgent hearing of the matter involving CBI and the Kolkata Police Commissioner – Rajeev Kumar. The SC, however, has deferred the hearing for Tuesday, February 5, 2019.

Citing the matter as “extraordinary situation”, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta has demanded for directions from the SC to ask the West Bengal Government to cooperate in the investigation involving Commissioner of Kolkata Police – Rajeev Kumar. He has been accused of destroying evidences related to chit-fund scams involving the Kolkata based Sarda Group and Rose Valley.

The Chief Justice of India (CJI) – Ranjan Gogoi said, “There is no evidence that Kolkata police is destroying evidence. He further added, “Lay down evidence and we will come down so heavily that he will regret it.”

Appearing on behalf of West Bengal Government, Senior Advocate – Abhishek Manu Singhvi told SC that that it is witch hunt by the CBI as Rajeev Kumar is a witness in the said case and not an accused. But the SC Bench told him to be ready with the defences of West Bengal Government ready for Tuesday, when it will hear the matter.

For the records, Rajeev Kumar investigated the Sarda and Rose Valley chit fund cases where several members of Mamata Banerjee’s party, All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) have been charged or arrested.

Mamata’s Dharna
In the meantime, The Chief Minister of West Bengal – Mamata Banerjee staged her protest by sitting on dharna on late Monday evening. Her dharna has entered the 2nd day of the protest. She is being accompanied by Rajeev Kumar.

Speaking on the fiasco, she said, “There is total constitutional breakdown. It is my job to protect my officers. They (the BJP) cannot fight it politically. That’s why they are resorting to all this. Mr (Ajit) Doval is doing whatever PM wants him to do, he is the one giving all the instructions to CBI.”

What Others are saying
The Home Minister – Rajnath Singh, has described the entire situation in Bengal as “unfortunate” and “unprecedented”.

The President of Indian National Congress – Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet, “I spoke with Mamata Di tonight and told her we stand shoulder to shoulder with her. The happenings in Bengal are a part of the unrelenting attack on India’s institutions by Mr Modi & the BJP. The entire opposition will stand together & defeat these fascist forces.”

The President of Samajwadi Party and former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh (U.P.) – Akhilesh Yadav, tweeted, “The BJP wants to stay in power by hook or by crook. They are so scared of losing that CBI is being used as election agents. This is undemocratic and against spirit of the constitution. We demand due process be followed so that CBI is not used as a tool of political interference.

What happened a day before?
Kolkata Police rounded up a team of 8 CBI officials who had gone to the bungalow of Kolkata Police Commissioner – Rajeev Kumar to question him. Kolkata Police later took the CBI Officials to Shakespeare Sarani Police Station, giving rise to an unprecedented confrontation between the Centre and the State.

On learning about the development, Mamata Banerjee first rushed to the bungalow of Rajeev Kumar and accused CBI of trying to stage a “constitutional coup in Bengal”. She then went to the heart of the city to start her dharna and raise her voice against the entire issue.

Why CBI wants to question Rajeev Kumar?
According to the CBI, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) was formed by the State of West Bengal in April 2013 to probe into the chit fund scam involving Sarda Group. The SIT was headed by Rajeev Kumar. During the investigations, SIT collected a laptop, 5 cell phones and documents, including a diary of Sarda Group promoter Sudipta Sen.

The case was taken up by the CBI in 2014 on the Supreme Court’s orders. CBI claims that it was discovered during court proceedings that the crucial evidence seized by the SIT were not handed over to CBI.

CBI says they had summons Rajeev Kumar several times in the past 2 years but he has never responded to them.

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