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No Supreme Court relief for ex-Kolkata top cop

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByHT Correspondent
May 24, 2019 11:53 PM IST

Former Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar suffered a setback on Friday as the Supreme Court refused to extend the protection from arrest granted to him in the multi-crore Saradha chit fund case.

Former Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar suffered a setback on Friday as the Supreme Court refused to extend the protection from arrest granted to him in the multi-crore Saradha chit fund case.

Former Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar(Arijit Sen/HT Photo)
Former Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar(Arijit Sen/HT Photo)

A vacation bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra, however, said Kumar could approach Calcutta high court or the trial court for relief. It refused to accept his argument that courts in West Bengal are not functioning and asked the IPS officer to appear in person and seek remedy before the court there.

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On May 17, Kumar was given seven days’ protection, which ended on Friday, by a bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi to enable him approach an appropriate judicial forum in West Bengal for relief. The court did this while vacating its order refraining the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) from taking coercive action against Kumar.

With no protection available, the CBI is now at liberty to arrest Kumar after seeking approval from the court where trial of the case is pending in Kolkata. Kumar has been accused of destroying crucial evidence in the case. It was on this ground that the CBI urged the top court to modify its February order and let it arrest Kumar. Subsequently, the court passed the May 17 order.

Earlier this week, Kumar had moved an application before the CJI urging him to set up a special three-judge bench to hear his plea for more time to approach the trial court or the high court in Kolkata. He took the step after a vacation bench on May 20 told him that a two-judge bench was not in a position to hear his plea since the May 17 order was a three-judge bench order. The CJI had on the administrative side rejected Kumar’s request.

Justice Mishra took strong exception to Kumar moving a petition on the judicial side under Article 32 despite the CJI rejecting his application.

“Is it maintainable (the writ petition)? You can go to the high court or the trial courts as the courts are functional there,” the bench told Kumar’s lawyer, Sunil Fernandes.

When Fernandes insisted the courts in Kolkata were paralysed due to a lawyers’ strike, the bench shot back: “You are wrong. The courts are sitting there. All judges are sitting in courts and they are hearing litigants. You client is a former commissioner of police and he knows the law better than many young lawyers. He can personally go to courts there.”

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