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Mamta Banerjee vs CBI: 'Victory of democracy,' says West Bengal CM after SC order

The new affidavit alleges that top cop Rajeev Kumar actively connived with the accused in the case in suppressing, destroying and destruction of evidence linked to the probe

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Mamta Banerjee vs CBI: 'Victory of democracy,' says West Bengal CM after SC order

As the Mamata Banerjee and Kolkata Police vs Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) showdown enters the third day, new developments are piling up at a fast pace. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that the Supreme Court's stopping the CBI from arresting Rajeev Kumar was a "victory of democracy".

Earlier, the Supreme Court ordered Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar to appear before the investigative agency in Shillong in connection with the probe into the Saradha and Rose Valley Chit Fund scams. The capital of Meghalaya was picked as it's a neutral place unlike Delhi. Significantly, the top court directed that the CBI cannot take any coercive steps, including arrest, against Kumar.

In a related development, the CBI submitted an additional affidavit in the top court alleging that Kumar not only refused to join the investigation despite multiple notices but also "actively connived with the accused persons whom he was investigating in suppressing, destroying and destructing of crucial material evidence" linked to the probe.

Yesterday, when the agency filed an interim application in the Supreme Court specifically naming Kumar as a "potential accused" and seeking directions to the West Bengal government and police to cooperate with its probe, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had asked for proof. "If the 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," said Gogoi. Today's affidavit makes several charges against the state police and Kumar in particular.

"Sh. Rajeev Kumar IPS was the Commissioner of Police, of Bidhan Nagar Police Commisionerate from 2012 to 2015. It is submitted that under the said Commissionarate, both big ponzi companies i.e Shardha and Rose Valley were flourishing," read the affidavit.

It went on to allege that the Special Investigation Team (SIT), formed nearly six years ago to look into the Saradha scam, which was headed by Kumar before the CBI took over, was "conniving" with the accused and the potential accused persons and "was actively subverting the investigation process" instead of serving its real purpose. "During the investigation by the Special Investigation Team crucial original, primary and fundamental evidence such as laptops, mobile phones etc. were handed over to the main accused in the Sharada Scam case by the I.O. of West Bengal Police working under direct supervision of Sh. Rajiv Kumar," the affidavit stated, adding, "It is submitted that the return of crucial evidence to the main accused by the SIT headed by Sh. Rajiv Kumar, despite the regular monitoring by the Hon'ble High Court, clearly show connivance of the SIT to a larger conspiracy wherein local authorities have obstructed investigation and made attempts to destroy the evidence prior to the transfer of the case to the CBI by this Hon'ble Court."

As an example of foul-play the CBI claimed that an FIR had been filed against Rose Valley - which is accused of duping investors of crores - in Durgapur Police Station, Kolkata, back in 2013. This FIR was allegedly suppressed by the SIT due to which the CBI could not register its own FIR against the company.

Another allegation in the affidavit is related to tampering with or doctoring call data records [CDRs] of the prime accused in the investigation. The CBI claims to have obtained the original CDRs from the service providers which prove that Kumar tampered with the evidence that the SIT handed over to the agency. The CBI has sought the top court's leave to submit such incriminating material in a sealed cover during the course of submissions.

The CBI has not spared the Banerjee administration either. "I submit that the inaction, selective action, police and chit fund nexus and the functioning of SIT was in fact used to shield the selective companies such as Shardha, M/s Rose Valley and Tower Group etc., which have given huge contributions (even by way of cheques) to the party in power in the State of West Bengal. It is submitted that the said can be corroborated by documentary evidence in the form of cheque payments," read the affidavit.

The CBI has also accused Kumar and the state government of harassing its officials after the probe was entrusted to the agency. Kumar, along with "the support of local political and executive machinery at his disposal has created numerous obstacles by harassing the CBI officials by unnecessarily summoning them when they have no connection with the said cases," the affidavit added.

The top court also issued notice to the West Bengal Chief Secretary, the DGP, and Rajeev Kumar in the contempt of court application filed by the CBI. They reportedly have to file their response on or before February 18, and on consideration of their replies, the Court may require the personal presence of these officers on February 20.

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