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CBI wants custodial interrogation to humiliate me: Ex-Kolkata CP to SC

PTI     May 2, 2019

New Delhi, May 2 (PTI) Former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar Thursday told the Supreme Court that the CBI wanted his custodial interrogation in the Saradha chit fund scam "just to humiliate" him and it should not be allowed to abuse the process of law. However, CBI told a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that they were seeking vacation of interim protection granted to Kumar by the apex court as some crucial evidence, collected by the West Bengal Police SIT which was probing the case earlier, was not shared with it despite repeated requests. The bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, reserved order on the CBI's application. The probe agency has told the court that custodial interrogation of Kumar, who was earlier heading the SIT, was necessary since there was prima facie evidence that he had allegedly tried to destroy or tamper with evidence and "shield high and mighty" in the case. During the hearing on Thursday, senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for Kumar, told the bench that CBI's plea seeking custodial interrogation of Kumar was a "mala fide exercise". "What is the mens rea (intention or knowledge of wrongdoing) in this? Where is the criminal intent to demand custodial interrogation?," Jaising said, adding, "This is nothing but a media trial. They (CBI) want custodial interrogation just to humiliate me (Kumar)". Jaising said that CBI was seeking custodial interrogation of the IPS officer in a contempt plea pending in the court and it was not permissible in the law. To this, the bench said, "They (CBI) are not seeking direction from us to arrest him (Kumar). They (CBI) are seeking vacation of the order of interim protection". Jaising said Kumar was interrogated by the CBI for almost 40 hours and the agency has not been able to spell out clearly as to what was the offence committed by Kumar for which they want his custodial interrogation. "How an ordinary citizen of this country will feel safe if there will be this kind of abuse of power by the CBI," she said. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for CBI, said that the agency was "not interested" only in Kumar but it would interrogate all those persons whose name would crop up in the investigation of the case. "A castle is sought to be built in the air that the CBI is only behind this man (Kumar)," he said. Mehta said CBI had written several letters to the West Bengal Police since 2014 regarding mobile phones and laptops, which were seized from accused including founder of Saradha Group Sudipto Sen, but they were not clearly told about the status of these devices. Jaising, however, said that Sen's mobile phone was still lying in the 'malkhana' (police record room) and data of these phones and laptops have already been shared with other probe agencies, including Enforcement Directorate and Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO). She claimed that CBI was not questioning or going after politicians, who have switched party and joined the party ruling at the Centre, in connection with the case. Mehta argued that though CBI was writing letters to the state police regarding seized phones and laptops of accused since 2014, the information that data was shared with other agencies have come up for the first time in April. The apex court had told CBI on Wednesday that it would examine whether there was evidence requiring Kumar's custodial interrogation in the scam. The court had also perused the case diary placed before it by the CBI. Kumar was earlier heading the West Bengal Police's special investigation team (SIT) probing the chit fund scam. The apex court had in May 2014 directed the CBI to investigate the case. The apex court had earlier termed as "very very serious" the revelations made by the CBI in its status report relating to the interrogation of Kumar. The court, on February 5, had granted protection from arrest to Kumar while directing him to appear before the CBI and "faithfully" cooperate into the investigation of cases arising out of the scam. PTI ABA RKS SA

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