The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), on Monday, moved the Supreme Court after an all-out war broke out between Centre and the Mamata Banerjee government on Sunday. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta filed a plea in the apex court on behalf of the CBI seeking immediate hearing in the matter.
The agency claimed that the West Bengal government and the state police is obstructing its probe in ponzi scams. The fast-paced development started unfolding as soon as a team of 40-odd agency officers arrived at Rajeev Kumar's residence at Loudon Street in central Kolkata on Sunday, but they were stopped by sentries and officials. The team had gone to question Kumar in connection with chit fund scam cases.
Kolkata Police-CBI face-off Highlights:
09:42 pm: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has said that her dharna against the CBI's attempt to grill the Kolkata Police chief in the chit fund scam cases will continue till Friday in view of the upcoming boards examinations. Banerjee is sitting on a dharna at the Metro Channel in Esplanade area in the heart of the city, the same spot she had sat on a 26-day fast in 2006 against the acquisition of farmland at Singur for the Tata Motors factory.
09:28 pm: West Bengal Congress to hold a protest rally on February 6 demanding immediate conclusion in the investigation of Saradha, Rose Valley and other Chit fund cases and the immediate arrest of the accused in Narada case
08:55 pm: The defrauded investors and agents of various chit fund companies have told news agency PTI that they feel "betrayed" by the West Bengal government's move to stop CBI officers from interrogating the Kolkata Police commissioner and accused the Trinamool Congress dispensation of trying to hide the truth behind the multi-crore scam.
08:50 pm: In a show of support, Tejashwi Yadav and Kanimozhi met with Mamata Banerjee at the dharna site
08:20 pm: RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav and DMK leader Kanimozhi arrive at Kolkata Airport to meet West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee.
7:00 pm: Three-judge SC bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Deepak Gupta & Justice Sanjiv Khanna will hear CBI’s pleas tomorrow against Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar & West Bengal govt for alleged non-cooperation in a case connected with Saradha chit fund scam.
06:21 pm: CBI has filed a contempt plea in the Supreme Court against West Bengal's Chief Secretary, Director General of Police and Kolkata Police Commissioner for wilful and deliberate violation of apex court's orders.
05:49 pm: I am ready to give my life but not compromise. I did not take to the streets when you touched TMC leaders. But I am angry when they tried to insult the chair of the Kolkata Police Commissioner, he is leading the organisation: West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee
04:36 pm: BJP office in Kolkata's Harish Chatterjee Street vadalised, the party blames TMC workers
West Bengal: TMC workers protest against PM Narendra Modi and Central govt over CBI issue in Kolkata. pic.twitter.com/gg7w2MLusR— ANI (@ANI) February 4, 2019
04:00 pm: According to sources, the Governor's report on West Bengal to MHA raised questions on the acts of the state police. In his report, the Governor mentioned that some CBI officers, including female staff, were manhandled by the West Bengal Police, sources said. CBI officers who were acting in furtherance of court were not only prevented but some of documented and mobiles phone were forcesfully snached by the state police, they said. The report, sources said, added that the CBI staff was kept in illegal confinement in police station and family members of Joint Direcor Pankaj Srivastav were humiliated.
03:52 pm: In 2014 Congress tweeted Rahul Gandhi's statement that 20 lakh people lost their money in chit fund scam in West Bengal. We took oath on May 26, 2014 so all these inquiries in Narada, Saradha scams started before us: Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad
03:50 pm: What is happening? A Police Commissioner is sitting on a dharna with politicians? What is the meaning of this? By sitting on dharna West Bengal CM is following the footsteps of Arvind Kejriwal: Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad
03:30 pm: The Calcutta High Court on Monday refused immediate hearing on the West Bengal government's plea against the CBI's attempt to question city police chief Rajeev Kumar at his residence in connection with chit fund scam cases. Following objection by the Union government, Justice Shivakant Prasad refused to give the matter an immediate hearing and listed it for Tuesday. (Read full story)
03:30 pm: State Advocate General Kishore Dutta submitted that despite a stay by the high court on steps regarding notice to state police officials, the CBI sought to enter Kumar's residence on Sunday and question him. He submitted that the court is scheduled to hear the matter on February 13 and as such, the CBI's attempt to enter Kumar's official residence was in violation of its order.
03:30 pm: Additional Solicitor General Kaushik Chanda submitted that the stay was on a CBI notice to only Arnab Ghosh, the then deputy commissioner (detective department) of Bidhannagar Police, which initially investigated the chit fund case, and two other police officials - Dilip Hazra and Sankar Bhattacharya. He further told the court that the CBI has already moved the Supreme Court, on the order of which the central agency is investigating the chit fund cases, and as such the hearing on the state's prayer be adjourned.
14:55 pm: A confidential report prepared by West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi has been sent to Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)
14:24 pm: Ex-Joint Director CBI S Sen: Politicians may like to use CBI but agencies shouldn't allow themselves to be used.Only solution to cases like these is, it should be put before CBI Spl Court where FIR has been filed.I don't understand why in this case CBI did not approach Spl Court.
13:43 pm: Manner in which constitutional institutions in this country, like CBI, are being misused to settle scores with opponents is unfortunate...We stand with Mamata ji. If institutions continue being discredited like this federal structure will be fractured: Former J&K CM M Mufti
13:20 pm: In interest of wanting free & fair environment in which LS polls can be conducted,we have come to bring to the notice of EC certain happenings in WB which has complete cooperation of TMC. Instances we highlighted point out that TMC doesn't believe in democracy: Nirmala Sitharaman
West Bengal: Visuals from 'Save the Constitution' dharna in Kolkata, as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee goes through documents continuing her routine work as the CM. pic.twitter.com/C6pL18zw2D— ANI (@ANI) February 4, 2019
12:40 pm: Lok Sabha adjourned till 2pm following an uproar by opposition parties over yesterday's incident in West Bengal
12:22 pm: HM Rajnath Singh on the CBI action in Saradha chit fund case in West Bengal yesterday: The action was taken after SC had ordered an investigation into Saradha chit fund case. The Police Commissioner was summoned many times but he did not appear.
12:21 pm: P Javadekar: Whatever is happening in Kolkata&WB is one of a kind. Never before was an investigating team taken into custody by police. It's murder of democracy. We want to ask Mamata Banerjee why is she staging dharna, who does she want to shield? Police Commissioner or herself?
12:07 pm: Union Steel Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh in Parliament: It will be best if the states function under the ambit the Constitution else they should keep Article 356 (President's rule) in mind
12:06 pm: Ministry of Home Affairs to seek a report on the role of IPS officers on allegations of obstructing investigation and violation of Service Conduct Rules in yesterday's incident in Kolkata
12:05 pm: Sanjay Raut, Shiv Sena: If CM of a big state as WB,is sitting on dharna, then it is a serious matter. Is this CBI vs Mamata Banerjee or Mamata Banerjee vs BJP, we'll find out soon. If CBI is being misused, it's a matter of dignity of the nation, and prestige of the agency (CBI).
12:03 pm: There was CBI row, centre was scared of a CBI director, now they are trying to scare everyone using CBI. Who has misused the institutions? If someone has politicised the institutions, it is BJP: Akhilesh Yadav
12:03 pm: Akhilesh Yadav, SP chief on CBI issue in West Bengal: Besides West Bengal, such things have been heard from other states too. BJP¢ral govt have started misusing CBI as elections are approaching. Not only I, not only Samajwadi Party, but all political parties are saying this
11:41 am: Ghulam Nabi Azad,Congress: From the day BJP has come to power at the Centre, they have paid very less attention towards working for the country but towards eliminating opposition parties, this has been their focus for the past 5 years.There is no other party more corrupt than BJP
11:40 am: Farooq Abdullah, National Conference on CBI issue in West Bengal: Her (Mamata Banerjee) allegation is right. This country is in danger as its becoming dictatorial. They (Central govt) are not masters of this country, people are
11:40 am: Lok Sabha adjourned till 12 pm after uproar by Opposition parties
11:33 am: Lok Sabha adjourned till noon amid slogan shouting by TMC members over alleged misuse of CBI in West Bengal
11:03 am: Former PM & JDS leader HD Deve Gowda: CBI went to arrest Kolkata Police Commissioner y'day, this is a misuse of CBI. It is much worse than Emergency. The way the events have unfolded (in West Bengal)since last night shows the PM has overacted by using the CBI. This won't help him
10:48 am: Hearing on CBI plea in SC: CJI Gogoi says, "If Kolkata Police Commissioner even remotely thinks of destroying evidence, bring the material before this Court. We will come down so heavily on him that he will regret."
10:46 am: SC to hear agency's petition in the case tomorrow
10:42 am: Solicitor General Tushar Mehta representing CBI submits before Supreme Court, 'Our team was arrested and kept in alleged custody. Kolkata Police Commissioner should immediately surrender."
West Bengal: Samajwadi Party leader Kiranmoy Nanda met Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at her 'Save the Constitution' dharna in Kolkata, earlier today. pic.twitter.com/yqEgHRXOFx— ANI (@ANI) February 4, 2019
10:40 am: We have spoken to all opposition parties, we all will go forward. We have to save the Constitution, the country and the federal structure. Later today, all opposition parties will go to the Election Commission: Derek O'Brien, TMC
10:38 am: CBI in its petition says Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar was summoned multiple times but failed to cooperate and created hurdles in the investigation
10:33 am: CBI moves Supreme Court seeking directions to Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar to cooperate with the investigation in Saradha chit fund case
10:15 am: Maharashtra Navnirman Sena Raj Thackeray in a statement yesterday, "We applaud & support the stand taken by Mamata Banerjee against the autocracy & tyranny of the Central govt. We firmly stand behind her & the fight against this tyranny."
West Bengal: Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar (in grey shirt) leaves from the site of CM Mamata Banerjee's 'Save the Constitution' dharna after meeting her. The CM has been back at the dharna after taking a short break earlier this morning. The dharna began last night. pic.twitter.com/Jhuptj8IOh— ANI (@ANI) February 4, 2019
#WATCH West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee continues dharna over CBI issue after a short break early morning. West Bengal CM began the 'Save the Constitution' dharna last night. #Kolkata pic.twitter.com/DBoS0GC1MJ— ANI (@ANI) February 4, 2019
09:30 am: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during 'Save the Constitution' dharna in Kolkata: A memorandum has been signed by all the opposition parties and it will be submitted to the Election Commission
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during 'Save the Constitution' dharna in #Kolkata: A memorandum has been signed by all the opposition parties and it will be submitted to the Election Commission pic.twitter.com/ZfyGSqR23u— ANI (@ANI) February 4, 2019
09:00 am: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at 'Save the Constitution' dharna in Kolkata. She has been staging dharna since last night over CBI issue.
08:40 am: BJP high level delegation including Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi & Bhupendra Yadav to meet Election Commission today on West Bengal issue
Kolkata: Latest visuals from near Metro Channel where West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is holding her 'Save the Constitution' dharna over the ongoing CBI issue pic.twitter.com/jNA3mTDb6N— ANI (@ANI) February 4, 2019
As the CBI team landed at his residence, a team of Kolkata Police officers rushed to the spot to speak to the CBI officials and tried to enquire if they had the documents required for questioning Kumar.
Later on, a small team of CBI officials was taken to Shakespeare Sarani police station for further discussions. Thereafter, more men arrived at the spot and a commotion ensued.
Some CBI officers were then forcibly bundled into police jeeps and taken to the police station.
The detention of the team by the local police perplexed the agency top brass as the CBI does not have any full time chief to take call in such politically sensitive matters. Recently appointed Director R K Shukla is yet to take reins of the agency.
The CBI has been probing cases allegedly involving opposition leaders like illegal mining case and the Saradha scam in which it was seeking to question the Kolkata police chief. The probe was handed over to the CBI by the Supreme Court.
In a dramatic showdown with the Modi government, a furious Mamata Banerjee, wrapped in a brown woollen shawl, began a sit-in right in front of the Metro Cinema to protest "insults" she faced at the hands of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah.
Banerjee, one of the prime movers behind the effort to cobble together an anti-BJP alliance ahead of the Lok Sabha elections 2019, claimed the CBI knocked on the doors of Kumar without a search warrant. She alleged they want to impose President's rule in whatever states the opposition is in power.
Meanwhile, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday called up West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and extended support to her, saying the entire opposition is together and it will defeat the fascist forces.
He alleged the events in West Bengal were part of an unrelenting attack on India'a institutions by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP.
He said the Congress stood shoulder to shoulder with Banerjee who is on an overnight protest dharna against CBI's attempt to question Kolkata Police chief Rajeev Kumar in connection with chit fund scams.
"The entire opposition will stand together and defeat these fascist forces," he tweeted.
An all-out war broke out between the Centre and the Mamata Banerjee government on Sunday, with the feisty West Bengal leader beginning a sit-in protest at a city landmark over the CBI's attempt to question the Kolkata Police chief, insisting it stifled the spirit of "Constitution and federalism".
(With inputs from agencies)