Kolkata top cop can’t be arrested but must cooperate: SC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar to appear before the CBI and faithfully co-operate in the probe into the Saradha chit fund scam, but said he must not be arrested.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Sanjiv Khanna said the CBI must not resort to any coercive action, including arresting the officer.

Directing the Kolkata Police Commissioner to “appear and make himself available before the investigating agency … the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)”, the court order said that he would “faithfully cooperate with the investigating agency at all times”.

In a rider, the court said, “however, we make it clear that no coercive steps including arrest shall be taken against the Commissioner of Police”.

Attempting to avoid all “unnecessary controversy”, the court ordered: “We direct the Commissioner of Police to appear before the investigating agency in Shillong, Meghalaya on such date(s) as may be fixed.”

The court opted for a neutral place Shillong on a request from Attorney General K.K. Venugopal.

The court also sought responses from the West Bengal Chief Secretary, the Director General of Police (DGP) and Rajeev Kumar on a contempt petition moved on Monday by the CBI along with the one asking for direction to Kumar to surrender for investigation.

Directing the Chief Secretary, DGP and the Kolkata Police Commissioner to file their responses to the “statements made in the contempt petition on or before 18.2.2019”, the order said that on consideration of their replies, if court requires their personal presence on February 20 — the next date of hearing — the same would be communicated to their respective offices on February 19.

During the hearing, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal described the situation as “a total breakdown of constitutional machinery” and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta highlighted that the CBI personnel were detained at a police station.

Appearing for the Kolkata Police Commissioner, senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi told the court: “They have asked for surrender when no offence is made out.

“Rajeev Kumar is vilified. He has written to the CBI to meet at a neutral place where the entire SIT will be there to be questioned,” Singhvi told the court.

Justice Gogoi said: “The problem with you is you assume too many things. What is your problem? You can cooperate.”

The next hearing will held be on February 20.