Saradha chit fund scam: CBI summons ex-Kolkata police chief Rajeev Kumar, asks him to appear before it on Monday

Kumar, who is facing a CBI inquiry in the Saradha chit fund scam, has been asked to be present at the Kolkata CGO complex at 10 am.

A team of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officers on Sunday evening served a notice to former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar asking him to appear before it on Monday. Kumar, who is facing a CBI inquiry in the Saradha chit fund scam, has been asked to be present at the CGO complex at 10 am. Kumar, a 1989-batch IPS officer, has been asked to be present at the Kolkata office of the agency in Salt Lake. 

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Earlier, a four-member CBI team had first reached former Kumar’s previous residence at Lowdon Street to serve summons in connection with the scam, then the same team went to 34, Park Street, which is his present residence. The CBI couldn’t meet Kumar at his residence.  Later, the same team moved to Bhawani Bhawan, the state police headquarters, which also houses the ADG CID’s office. A second notice was served to Rajeev Kumar at his office in Bhawani Bhawan.

After the Model Code of Conduct was lifted by the Election Commission (EC) on Sunday evening, the Mamata Banerjee government reinstated Kumar as the ADG CID of West Bengal. 

The CBI has also issued a Look Out Notice against Kumar to prevent him from leaving the country. All the airports and immigration authorities have been alerted by the CBI to stop him if he intends to leave the country and intimate the agency. The CBI wants custodial interrogation of Kumar in connection with the case as he was heading the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the West Bengal police to probe the case before the CBI took over. The probe agency had told the Supreme Court that custodial interrogation of Kumar was necessary as he was not co-operating in the probe and he was "evasive" and "arrogant" in answering the queries put to him during his questioning by the agency.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for the CBI, had said Kumar was the in charge of the investigation by the SIT and had allowed the release of evidence, including mobile phones and laptops, containing crucial records. Mehta had said the seized mobile phones and laptops were not even sent for forensic examination and material evidence were destroyed in the case.

The apex court had in April asked CBI to furnish evidence for seeking custodial interrogation of Kumar in Saradha case, saying it has to be satisfied that the agency's request was "bona fide" and not for "political purposes". The apex court had on May 17 withdrawn protection given to Kumar from any arrest and had asked the CBI to proceed as per law. "We have withdrawn the protection given to Rajeev Kumar vide order dated February 5," the bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had said but gave a week's time to Kumar to approach the competent court for anticipatory bail.

Kumar had again approached the Supreme Court on May 20 seeking an extension of protection claiming that the courts in West Bengal were not functioning due to lawyers' strike. This petition was rejected, following which Kumar had approached a Kolkata court with anticipatory bail.

In January, the Centre and West Bengal government had faced an unprecedented standoff after a CBI team, which reached the residence of Kumar for questioning him, had to retreat after local police refused to let it enter and detained its officers. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee came in the defence of Kumar and started a sit-in to protest against the Centre's move.

The Supreme Court had on February 5 had prevented the agency from any coercive action against Kumar and directed him to appear and co-operate in CBI questioning at a "neutral place". He was questioned by the CBI for nearly five days at its office in Shillong from February 9 onwards. The scam was over Rs 2,500 crore by the Saradha group of companies, which had duped lakhs of customers promising higher rates of returns on their investment, the CBI had alleged.