New Delhi: India’s Supreme Court on Monday took the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to task for not providing any proof of its claim that Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar could destroy electronic evidence related to Saradha chit fund scam case.
“If Kolkata Police Commissioner even remotely thinks of destroying evidence, bring the material before this Court. We will come down so heavily on him that he will regret. There is no evidence of what you are saying right now,” Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said asking solicitor-general Tushar Mehta to come back with evidence on Tuesday.
The country’s premier probe agency CBI told the court that an “extraordinary situation” had arisen in which the senior state police officials were engaging in a sit-down protest (‘dharna’) along with ruling Trinamool Congress party in capital Kolkata.
Detailing how CBI officers were taken into custody by police on Sunday night, Mehta said, “the CBI team was arrested and kept in custody. Please take cognisance that people in uniform are sitting on ‘dharna’ with a political party. The evidence which is in the electronic form will be destroyed in the meantime. The Kolkata Police Commissioner should immediately surrender.”
Reacting to that, the apex court bench said, “If at all the evidence is destroyed, it is in electronic form and can be retrieved.”
On Monday, CBI filed two applications; one for seeking a direction from the Supreme Court that the Kolkata Police chief should surrender and not destroy any evidence, and second related to contempt of court committed by the police chief as there was a court order to carry out the investigation into the chit fund case.
The court, however, declined to accord priority hearing to the CBI’s plea and asked the probe agency to appear before it with evidence of its claims on Tuesday.
The agency alleged that the West Bengal government was trying to block investigations ordered by the top court.
Appearing for the state government, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi told the court that it was a case of witchhunt as Kumar was a witness and not an accused in the Saradha chit fund scam.
Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress on Monday alleged that around 40 CBI officers reached Kumar’s house on Sunday evening. The party further claimed that the CBI officials tried to question the police chief without a warrant.
Kumar had investigated the 2013 Saradha chit fund case in which several members of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress party were arrested.
Meanwhile, Banerjee’s “sit-in protest” to “save the Constitution” following the showdown between the state police and CBI officials entered day two on Monday.
“There is total constitutional breakdown. It is my job to protect my officers. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) cannot fight us politically. That is why they are resorting to all this,’ Banerjee told media on Monday.