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Saradha scam: As HC withdraws protection from arrest, CBI summons ex-Kolkata police chief

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Kolkata, Sep 13: The CBI has summoned former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar to appear for questioning on Saturday in connection with its probe into the Saradha scam, officials said.

The agency served notices to Kumar after the Calcutta High Court withdrew his protection from arrest on Friday. A team of CBI officials reached his residence to serve the notice, the officials said.

Saradha scam: Calcutta HC withdraws ex-Kolkata police chief’s interim protection from arrest

Earlier in the day, the Calcutta High Court vacated its order granting protection from arrest to former Kolkata Police commissioner Rajeev Kumar in connection with the Saradha chit fund scam.

The court also rejected Kumar's prayer for quashing of a CBI notice that sought his appearance for questioning in the case.

Kumar, who is currently the West Bengal CID additional director general, was part of a Special Investigation Team set up by the state government to investigate the scam before the Supreme Court handed over the case to the CBI in 2014, along with other chit fund cases.

The Saradha group of companies has allegedly duped lakhs of people to the tune of Rs 2500 crore, promising higher rates of returns on their investments.

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Kumar was the commissioner of Bidhannagar Police when the SIT was formed and looked after its day to day operations, his counsel had told the court during the hearing of the case. Justice Mitra, in her order said that Kumar's allegation that he was targetted and singled out for questioning by the CBI cannot be accepted, since other officers superior to him in the SIT were questioned.

The court observed that the notice served on Kumar by the investigating officer (IO) cannot be said to be mala fide as alleged by the IPS officer, as he can question anyone acquainted with the case.

Noting that Kumar has failed to substantiate that the CBI was summoning him for questioning to dent his reputation, the court observed that it should be the duty of every responsible officer to assist an investigation.

The CBI had summoned Kumar on May 27 for questioning in connection with the Saradha ponzi scheme case, challenging which he had moved the high court, seeking quashing of the notice. A vacation bench had on May 30 granted Kumar protection from arrest and coercive action by the CBI. The protection was extended from time to time during the hearing of his petition seeking quashing of the notice.

Justice Mitra observed that right to life and personal liberty enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution is not absolute, but a qualified right. She also refused to entertain the former Kolkata top cop's prayer that no coercive action be taken against him without the permission of this court.

The Supreme Court had, on May 17, withdrawn the protection from arrest to Kumar, which it had granted earlier. A vacation bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Arun Mishra, had said Kumar could approach the Calcutta High Court or a trial court here for seeking relief in the case. The central agency had in April told the top court that Kumar's custodial interrogation was necessary as he was not cooperating in the probe.

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