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Both Mamata, Centre claim 'moral victory'; Whose win is it anyway?

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New Delhi, Feb 5: The Supreme Court's order allowing the CBI to question Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar is being dubbed as the "great moral victory" for the top investigating agency by the Union Government. Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has also claimed that the apex court order is a "moral victory" and would "strengthen the the morale of the officers".

 File photo of Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad

The entire row erupted on Sunday evening when the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officials reached the residence of Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar in connection with the probe into chit fund scams. The Kolkata police, in an unprecedented chain of events, detained the CBI team and took them to to Shakespeare Sarani police station.

No arrest, but appear before CBI at neutral venue, SC to Kolkata top cop

The CBI officials had reportedly reached Kolkata to question city police chief Rajeev Kumar, but were prevented from questioning the police commissioner as they were allegedly detained at a police station.

The CBI then approached the Supreme Court on Monday and sought for an urgent hearing after its officers were detained. The CBI raised suspicions that the Kolkata top cop was destroying evidence in the chit fund case.

The Supreme Court today (February 5) directed the Kolkata Police Commissioner to appear before the CBI, but also made it clear that no coercive steps, including arrest, can be taken against Rajeev Kumar.

"This order was given by the Supreme Court to investigate the conspiracy angle and also money laundering angle. This investigation must be done in a fair manner. Let's not politicise it. This is a great moral victory for CBI," Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told the media after the apex court order.

"Today we have to ask larger questions on behalf of the party. Lakhs of small investors were cheated and looted off their money. Is it not our moral obligation for an investigation? Why is Mamata ji silent on this? Why are the other political parties silent on this?" Prasad added.

Meanwhile, Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is sitting on a dharna since Sunday evening against CBI's attempts to question Rajeev Kumar, also termed that the apex court order as a "moral victory" which would "strengthen the the morale of the officers".

"Rajeev Kumar never said I will not be available. They (CBI) came to arrest. The court said no arrest," she said.

Whose win is it anyway?

A PTI report while quoting a senior CBI official says that the top investigating agency had written thrice seeking presence of Kumar, who was member of the Special Investigation Team of the Kolkata Police probing the chit fund scam.

CBI vs Bengal: Did Rajeev Kumar, withhold or destroy evidence?

The first notice to the Kolkata police commissioner was sent on October 18, 2017 to appear for questioning next day but he cited law and order duties of the ensuing festive season. The next notice was issued on October 23, 2017 but again he excused himself from the questioning. The CBI had sent a third notice on December 8, 2018 but he responded saying the queries can be sent to him and he will reply.

Not getting any "positive response" from him, a team of 11 CBI officials along with two independent witnesses and support staff had approached the residence of Kumar at 5.45pm on Sunday where they found the gate closed, another official, on the condition of anonymity, told PTI.

After that, some of the CBI officers went to the Shakespeare Sarani police station, where they reached at 6pm to inform the local police about the visit and sought cooperation, the officials said. But the officer concerned refused them any acknowledgement, the official said.

After the Supreme Court order today, Banerjee said that the CBI came to arrest Rajeev Kumar on Sunday and the top court said no coercive action, including arrest, against Kolkata police chief. On this basis, Banerjee also claimed that it was a 'moral victory'.

The entire matter should not be looked in terms of win or loss to any side. It was a stand-off between a central agancy and the state police which the Supreme Court has, for time being, resolved. The apex court allowed the CBI to question Kumar and directed the Kolkata police commissioner to cooperate. The SC said that he will meet the CBI at Shillong, a neutral place.

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