CBI wants custodial interrogation of ex-Kolkata top cop Rajeev Kumar

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KOLKATA, April 6 (PTI):The CBI will move the Supreme Court seeking removal of the “no coercive action” clause against former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar as it wants his custodial interrogation in connection with the Saradha chit fund scam, an official of the probe agency said Saturday.

It would be better if Kumar is questioned without the no coercive action clause in order to know the finer details of the case, he said.

Kumar had been embroiled in a controversy for being at loggerheads with the CBI over its investigations into the Saradha chit fund and Rose Valley scams.

“We will appeal before the Supreme Court to remove the “no coercive action” clause against Rajeev Kumar. If a person has additional protection at times he or she doesn’t reveal things. It would be better if we question him in our custody,” a senior CBI official told PTI.

A team of CBI officers was stopped from entering the residence of Kumar, when he was the city police chief on February 3 when they had gone to question him in connection with the scam cases.

The move had led to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to launch a dharna in the heart of the city, protesting against “the attack on constitutional norms”.

On February 5, the apex court had directed Kumar to appear before the central investigative agency in connection with the matter. It had also said that no coercive step should be taken against  Kumar.

Acting on the apex court’s order, the CBI had questioned Kumar for several days in Shillong from February 9.

Meanwhile, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee wrote to the Election Commission protesting transfers of four IPS officers, including Kolkata and Bidhannagar police commissioners.

The EC decision is “unfortunate”, “highly arbitrary, motivated and biased” and taken at the behest of BJP, the letter said, urging the poll panel to review its decision

“Should there be any deterioration in the law order situation of the state, would the Commission take responsibility?” said the letter, the content of which was shared with PTI.

It also asked the EC to initiate a probe as to how and under whose guidance the decision on the transfer of the top police officers was taken.

“I strongly feel that the EC plays a neutral role to save democracy in India. But, it is very unfortunate that I have to write this letter today to raise strong protest against the transfer order dated April 5, 2019 issued by the EC by way of removing four senior officers from their existing positions,” Banerjee said in her letter.

“The decision of the Commission is highly arbitrary, motivated and biased. We have every reason to believe that the decision of the Commission is at the behest of the ruling party at the Centre, i.e the BJP,” the letter read.

Banerjee alleged that the EC transfer orders came soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a BJP candidate alleged in a TV programme that the law and order situation in West Bengal is bad.

The EC had on Friday night removed Kolkata Police Commissioner Anuj Sharma and Bidhannagar Police Commissioner Gyanwant Singh in a major shake-up ahead of the seven-phase Lok Sabha polls in the state.

“The flow of events gives rise to strong doubts whether the Commission is functioning as per its constitutional mandate of conducting free and fair elections or working in a manner to appease the ruling BJP at the centre,” the letter said.

Describing Sharma and Singh as “bright and experienced”, she said they had played key roles in the seizure of illegal currency, gold, liquor and other prohibited items and in enforcing law and order in strict manner.

“The decision of the ECI to remove these officers leaves a big question mark whether this step is to give a shield to the vested interested parties and their political masters,” Banerjee’s letter said.

She said those brought in place of the two top police officers had been given the duty of police observers in other states and have little idea about Kolkata and Bidhannagar.

Stating that law and order is a state subject, Banerjee alleged that the state government was not consulted on the transfer.

“By not following the established practice and not seeking a panel of officers from the state government, the action of the ECI is prima facie undemocratic, biased and suffers from principles of natural justice,” she wrote.

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