Former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar moved the Supreme Court on Monday seeking extension of the 7-day protection granted to him by it in connection with the Saradha chit fund scam case in view of lawyers' strike in Kolkata.
Kumar's counsel mentioned the matter for urgent listing before a vacation bench comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and Sanjiv Khanna and said that since lawyers in Kolkata are on strike, the protection granted to the IPS officer should be extended. The counsel said due to the strike, Kumar was not able to move the competent court for seeking relief and hence, the protection granted to him be counted from the time the strike ends.
The lawyer told the bench that the top court had on May 17 granted seven days time to Kumar to approach the competent court for legal remedies but four days have already elapsed and they needed time to approach the competent court there.
However, the bench said since the May 17 order was passed by a three-judge bench, Kumar's counsel can approach the apex court registry or the secretary general for listing of the matter before an appropriate bench. "You are a lawyer and you know that CJI is the master of roster," the bench told Kumar's counsel and asked him to approach the registry for listing of the matter.
On May 17, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had withdrawn the protection from arrest granted to Kumar by its February 5 order.
The apex court, on February 5, had granted protection from arrest to Kumar while directing him to appear before the CBI and "faithfully" cooperate with investigation of cases arising out of the scam.
The apex court had last week said that protection to Kumar would continue for seven days from May 17 to enable him to approach the competent court for relief.
The CBI had earlier told the court that they needed custodial interrogation of Kumar in the case.
In its May 17 order, the top court had also expressed concern over the confrontation between the CBI and the West Bengal Police in the case, saying that "at the receiving end are silently waiting lakhs of small town and rural investors who have been deprived and looted of their savings".
The bench had said the situation was grim as both sides have hardened their stand and there was no administrative mechanism in place to avoid and resolve such conflicts between two wings of the police force in the country. It had noted that the CBI had issued three notices on October 18 and October 23, 2017, and on December 8, 2018 asking Kumar to appear and join investigation, but he had not responded.
The court had also noted that the West Bengal government and Kumar have alleged "political vendetta" and have made allegations against M Nageswara Rao, former interim CBI director.
In its order, the court had said the CBI had alleged non-cooperation and charged WB state police with "obfuscating investigation by causing impediments and roadblocks with a view to protect big names and members/leaders of the ruling party in the State of West Bengal".
The court had noted the CBI's claim of having substantial material implicating Kumar, the then Commissioner, Bidhannagar Commissionerate, of connivance and complicity with the principal accused.
Earlier, Kumar in an affidavit before the court had alleged that he was targeted by the CBI in the chit fund case due to "mala fide intent" and "conflict of interest" of Rao as his family members were under the scanner post-demonetisation.
The Election Commission had last week ordered removal of Kumar, who was posted as Additional Director General, CID, in West Bengal for allegedly failing to control incidents of violence in the state and had asked him to report to the Union Home Ministry on Thursday.
Kumar was removed along with West Bengal's Principal Secretary (Home) Atri Bhattacharya after parts of Kolkata witnessed widespread violence during BJP president Amit Shah's massive road show in the city.