Kolkata top cop ordered to join probe as CBI accuses Mamata govt of armed rebellion

Kolkata top cop ordered to join probe as CBI accuses Mamata govt of armed rebellion

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Obstruction, detention of CBI officials an armed rebellion against Centre: CBI
  • We are probing police, chit fund nexus: CBI
  • Call records given to CBI by SIT doctored, incomplete: Attorney General

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar to appear before the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which tried unsuccessfully to question him about chit fund scams this weekend.

The top court instructed Rajeev Kumar to appear before the investigation agency in Shillong, Meghalaya's capital, as it was a neutral place. The CBI, meanwhile, has been asked not to take any coercive steps, including arrest.

The CBI told the Supreme Court in an affidavit that Rajeev Kumar tampered with call record evidence, and asked for permission to submit incriminating material in a sealed cover.

When a CBI team tried to question Rajeev Kumar this weekend in Kolkata, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee began a protest, accusing the central government of attempting a "coup".

Senior opposition leaders, including current and former chief ministers, have rallied behind Mamata Banerjee -- who has called her protest a "satyagraha". Meanwhile, the Centre told Parliament on Monday that the developments in West Bengal indicated a "breakdown of the Constitution".

'ARMED REBELLION'

The CBI said in its affidavit that the obstruction and detention of CBI officials amounted to an "armed rebellion" against the central government and agencies.

It said it was investigating "inaction", "selective action" and a "police and chit fund nexus", and claimed the special investigation team (SIT) was used to shield companies such as Saradha, Rose Valley and Tower Group.

The CBI said these companies gave the party in power in West Bengal huge contributions, including payments by cheque.

Witnesses have testified that the SIT was "conniving" with people accused in the chit fund scam and actively subverting the investigation, the CBI alleged.

Attorney General KK Venugopal told the Supreme Court the SIT didn't properly investigate people connected to the All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) -- Mamata Banerjee's party.

He said incomplete and doctored call records were handed over to the CBI by the SIT, and decried what he called a total breakdown of constitutional machinery in West Bengal.

The attorney general said a laptop and cellphones recovered from Saradha owner Sudipto Roy were seized by the SIT, but returned to him without retaining data. He said the recovered material wasn't sent to a forensic lab, accusing the SIT of either a "serious omission" or a "deliberate commission".