Kolkata, Sep 17 : Senior IPS officer Rajeev Kumar – under the CBI scanner in connection with the Saradha ponzi scam – suffered a setback in his efforts to get judicial relief on Tuesday as a district sessions judge ordered as “not maintainable” the anticipatory bail plea moved by the former city police commissioner.
The judge after hearing arguments and counter-arguments from the lawyers representing Kumar and the respondent CBI said the case had been generated in the South 24 Parganas district while his court has jurisdiction over North 24 Parganas district
“The learned district sessions judge Barasat passed an order saying the case is not maintainable in his court. The judge said his court was the district sessions court in North 24 Parganas, while the case was generated in South 24 Parganas district. So he said it was not maintainable for hearing in the jurisdiction of his court,” Kumar’s counsel told reporters.
The counsel said the judge has “neither rejected it on merit, nor allowed it on merit”.
The CBI’s efforts to get a non-bailable arrest warrant against Kumar at the special court in Barasat also met the same fate, with the judge saying his court did not have the powers to issue non-bailable warrants.
The judge Sanjib Daruka said his court could only hold trials and had no magisterial powers to issue non-bailable warrants.
It was an action-packed day at Barasat as Kumar’s lawyers and CBI’s legal team fought dramatic court battles since the morning.
The day began with Kumar moving an anticipatory bail petition at the special court in Barasat, which returned the plea saying it had no jurisdiction to hear such cases.
“Kumar had moved a petition at the MP, MLA special court. But judge Sanjib Daruka after an academical discussion said he does not have jurisdiction for hearing under Section 438 (Direction for grant of bail to person apprehending arrest) in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. Under the Supreme Court guidelines, he cannot hear this case under section 438,” said the CBI counsel.
Kumar’s lawyers then moved the petition at the North 24 Parganas District Sessions Court which admitted the matter and posted it for hearing after 2 pm.
Kumar’s counsels claimed during the hearing that he was being framed and accused the CBI of making false allegations against him.
They argued that on September 13 the CBI had sent notices to Kumar to appear as witness, but on Tuesday the agency had moved plea for issuing non-bailable warrant against him. They questioned the basis of the change in the CBI’s stand and wanted to know what fresh material it had found over the past four days.
Claiming that Kumar has always cooperated with the probe agency, the counsels said he was earlier questioned for almost 40 hours in Shillong in February.
They argued that the CBI had issued its first notice to Kumar (to appear as witness for questioning) in 2017, three years after taking over the case. During the intervening three years Kumar’s name did not figure in the chargesheet as also the seven supplementary chargesheets filed by the agency.
The CBI counsel, on the other hand, argued that Kumar – being the commissioner of Bidhananagar Commissionerate – knew every detail about the illegal fund collections by the Saradha group whose headquarters Midland Park was within the jurisdiction of the commissionerate. However, Kumar did not raid the office and also failed to carry out any investigation into the affairs of the Saradha group.
Oppsosing the anticipatory bail plea, the CBI counsel said Kumar headed the Special investigation Team constituted by the West Bengal government to probe the Saradha scam but took no action on the allegations of group head and prime accused Sudipto Sen about the influential persons involved in the matter.
The counsel said Congress MP Abi Hashem Khan Choudhury, the Prime Minister’s Office, the SEBI and the RoC had also made written complaints about the Group, which were all forwared to Kumar, but he took no action.
He said after taking over the probe in 2014, the CBI asked for the call detail records of six mobile phones used by Sen and his aide Debjani Mukherjee during their arrest from Srinagar, but it was never handed over to the agency by the SIT.
He said after the CBI procured the call records of the mobile phones from the telecom companies it found it contained the numbers of some influential people. That may be the reason the call record data was not handed over to CBI.
Reffering to the statement of Debjani Mukherjee, the CBI counsel said she had told the agency that the SIT had seized two diaries from the Midland Park office. To date, the diaries have not been handed over to the CBI or Enforcement Directorate.
The counsel claimed that Kumar was trying to save himself, and despite being a senior police officer, has become a lawbreaker.
Countering Kumar’s counsel, the CBI lawyer said even during the interrogation in Shillong, he was unwilling to cooperate.
Giving anticipatory bail to Kumar would be improper as his custodial interrogation was needed to zero in on the influential people involved in the scam.
On the issue of Kumar’s name not figuring in the chargesheets, the CBI said the case was under investigation and how could somebody’s name be there in chargesheet before the probe was completed about his role.
Later, Kumar’s counsel told reporters: “So we are where we were at the start of the day. We will discuss our legal strategy and decide.”
Sources said, Kumar is likely to approach the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Alipore, for relief.