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The CBI Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking directions to the West Bengal government and the state police to cooperate in the Saradha chit fund case investigation. The West Bengal police Sunday had detained a team of CBI officials who had gone to commissioner Rajeev Kumar’s official residence to question him in the case. 

Protesting against the CBI action, chief minister Mamata Banerjee launched an indefinite ‘Save the Constitution’ sit-in Sunday night.   

ThePrint asks: Is CBI overstepping in West Bengal or Mamata Banerjee politicising due process?


This was a surgical strike on the federal nature of the Indian Constitution 

Saugata Roy
Leader, TMC 

It is evident that the CBI overstepped in this case. The agency officials weren’t right in showing up at the police commissioner’s home as they had neither informed the state government, nor sought the court’s permission. The agency has now moved the Supreme Court. Why didn’t it do this in advance?

The plan was never to simply interrogate Rajeev Kumar but to arrest him, otherwise they wouldn’t have landed up at his place in large numbers.

The Saradha chit fund case has been going on for many years now. The CBI is quite obviously not serious about investigating it, otherwise it would have showed up sooner and not a few weeks before the Lok Sabha elections.

This was a politically motivated attack, a surgical strike on the federal nature of the Constitution. From time to time, the CBI attacks Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav and other opponents of the Modi government. The central agency is indeed a caged parrot, completely operated by Narendra Modi. But we will not allow this to continue to happen. I cannot anticipate what the court will say, but we have utmost respect for the country’s highest court.

Fundamentally, this is a Centre-state question, and Mamata Banerjee has the courage and the gumption to take on these central authorities.


Mamata protecting commissioner because perhaps he knows something she can’t let people know

Shishir Bajoria
State executive member, West Bengal BJP

The CBI had been sending notices to police commissioner Rajeev Kumar to appear before it for its investigation into the Saradha chit fund scam.

After waiting for over a year, the CBI officers tried to visit the commissioner’s residence yesterday (February 3). No warrant is needed under specific provisions of the law. The Kolkata police has, under the same commissioner and using the same provisions, raided residences of several people, including politicians.

The central agency has been alleging that Kumar may destroy several documents and electronic evidence.

But chief minister Mamata Banerjee has decided to sit on a dharna. Perhaps, there is something the commissioner knows that she can’t afford the public to know, and hence she is protecting him, because she didn’t do anything other than hold a perfunctory protest when Madan Mitra, a minister in her government, was arrested by the CBI. Several other leaders of her party, including Sudeep Bandopadhyay, Tapas Pal and Kunal Ghosh, have been arrested. Her political leaders are clearly not as important to her.

Most of the leaders who have called her to show support seem to be under the CBI scanner themselves. As they say, birds of a feather flock together.


CBI notice to Rajeev Kumar was to appear as a witness, and not as an accused

Pawan Khera
Spokesperson, Congress

In October, the Delhi Police had swarmed the CBI headquarters in the middle of the night and sealed it for two hours. M Nageshwar Rao was brought in to replace Alok Verma as the CBI director amid tight security. The fate of documents containing evidence and files of important cases is not known.

The role of the NSA and a RAW officer came to light but the might of the Modi government silenced everyone who could expose its dirty secrets.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah had both threatened to arrest Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar. Within 48 hours, the CBI was at Kumar’s residence without any authorisation despite the fact that Kumar had offered to meet them at his office. The fact that the notice issued to him was under section 160 of the CrPC, which seeks the attendance of a witness and not an accused, is also getting buried in the noise of TV debates.

The credibility of agencies under this government is at its lowest, and that of the PMO and NSA even worse. After the CBI failed to file an appeal in Judge Loya and Sohrabuddin cases, and closed Ramdev’s case, it was the PMO’s responsibility to first restore its credibility and then expect the state governments to cooperate.


By trying to enter commissioner’s house without court order, CBI officers played into Mamata’s hands

Rajat Roy
Member, Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group

While the CBI may have overstepped by trying to enter the Kolkata police commissioner’s official residence without notice, Mamata Banerjee is guilty of serious violation of her constitutional obligations as chief minister of West Bengal.

Knowing the Bengal government’s declared stance of non-cooperation with central investigating agencies, the CBI could have been more circumspect. Mamata had earlier publicly announced that no one from her party would go to the CBI office if they were called. West Bengal had withdrawn ‘general consent’ given to the CBI to investigate cases in the state.

Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar was definitely evading the CBI officers for the last few weeks. They could have reported it to the Supreme Court and obtained an order to interrogate him. By trying to enter his residence without armed with a court order, the CBI officers played into the hands of Mamata. She did not miss the opportunity to turn it into an attack by the Centre on the federal structure.

But the manner in which she unleashed the state police force against the CBI officers, forcibly detaining them and releasing them later, indicates a sort of panic in the TMC leadership.


This wouldn’t have happened had the CBI not landed at the commissioner’s home in the manner it did

D.R. Karthikeyan
Former CBI director

The manner in which things panned out on Sunday was highly unfortunate. This was completely avoidable if only the CBI had acted more tactfully.

There is no contestation about the fact that the CBI doesn’t need a warrant to conduct its investigations. In that, the agency is within its rights. However, having power is one thing and using that power prudently is another.

The CBI claims that police commissioner Rajeev Kumar was sent two notices, but he didn’t appear. But I still believe the central agency could have dealt with this differently.

The CBI officials didn’t need to go to his home on a Sunday evening. Knowing the atmosphere in Kolkata, a certain sensitivity from the CBI’s end would have been good.

If the commissioner had refused to cooperate, the CBI could have gone to the Supreme Court, which would have directed him to cooperate. This would have been a more astute way of approaching this matter.

The CBI officials were only performing their duty. It was a court-monitored investigation and they did what was required. The way they were hoarded in police vans was also inappropriate.

The whole situation was avoidable if the CBI officials hadn’t landed at the commissioner’s home in the manner that they did.


By Fatima Khan, journalist at ThePrint. You can follow her on twitter @khanthefatima.

Check out My543, our comprehensive report card of all Lok Sabha MPs.


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3 COMMENTS

  1. all investigations by police forces of any kind including cbi are to be conducted under the code of criminal procedure.

    the code has detailed provisions for each act to be undertaken by an investigating officer.

    when police from one jurisdiction wish to do anything in another jurisdiction, they are bound to fallow the provisions of the code of criminal procedure.

    this is what section 160 says

    160. Police officer’ s power to require attendance of witnesses.
    (1) Any police officer, making an investigation under this Chapter may, by order in writing, require the attendance before himself of any person being within the limits of his own or any adjoining station who, from the information given or otherwise, appears to be acquainted with the facts and circumstances of the case; and such person shall attend as so required: Provided that no male person under the age of fifteen years or woman shall be required to attend at any place other than the place in which such male person or woman resides.
    (2) The State Government may, by rules made in this behalf, provide for the payment by the police officer of the reasonable expenses of every person, attending under sub- section (1) at any place other than his residence.
    but admittedly the present commissioner of police kolkata is not and can not be a witness for cbi.
    he too is a police officer who was in charge of the SIT, or special investigation team that was formed to investigate certain offences. the subject matter of such investigations was handed over by the supreme court to cbi. cbi has collected the case records from the earlier investigation team.
    if cbi has any issue with what material was given to it, it has to fallow the procedure laid down for collection or records by a new team of investigation from the old team.

    the state government normally makes such detailed rules. so cbi should have raised the issue with the state government, which it appears to have done. if the cbi was not satisfied with their response, they ought to have brought the matter to the notice of the supreme court from whose order it has drawn the mandate to investigate this case as an investigating team or investigation officer as prescribed under the code of criminal procedure.
    it has not done so.
    whenever any visiting police team wants to do anything, specially making a raid on the residence of another police officer, they must consult the local police.

    in this case it was the very officer who had the power to authorize the visiting police team to do what they want to do. as such they could not have asked his permission. so they ought to have worked out an arrangement with the director general of the police, west Bengal for a solution. they could have given this officer every question they want to ask him and he would have given his answers in writing. and if his answers were not satisfactory, they could have called him as a witness and he could have been examined under oath in a court when the case came up for trail.. the cbi bigwigs have clearly stated that they wanted to arrest him. how can they arrest a police officer who has investigated the matter they are now investigating under a court order?
    they would have no power.
    we do not seem to have access to the affidavit of the cbi in supreme court. press reports say that they claim that he has destroyed evidence.
    there is no power vested in any police officer, or court or authority of any kind in India to begin an investigation or arrest any person without first registering an FIR, a first information report in a police station or cbi which is equivalent to a police station. the FIR must be dispatched to the concerned magistrate expeditiously!
    in the instant case the matter seem to be almost five years or so old. cbi appears to have taken over the case in 2014 or so under the orders of the supreme court.
    the charge of destruction of evidence is a new offence.
    supreme court appears to have directed the cbi to investigate the sarada scam.
    allegations of destruction of evidence in the earlier sarada scam forms a distinct offence.
    for that, in all probability, the cbi must lodge an fir with the local police against the police officer they find have or might have destroyed evidence.. they have to furnish the material and information they have for this allegation to the local police station station house officer and any investigating officer assigned by him to investigate the same.
    if the police do not investigate or do not investigate to the satisfaction of the cbi, they can move the concerned magistrate or they can place the matter before the supreme court and seek their guidance.
    recently cbi director and additional directors appear to have registered such firs against each other in different sections of cbi.
    forty cbi officers raiding the house of a quasi judicial officer, an officer who is vested with magisterial powers is a clear violation of the code of criminal procedure. cbi does not have such power.
    mr rajeev kumar has requested the cbi to give him a list of questions for which he would send answers.
    he appears to be within his rights.
    his answers would have been in black and white and available for Judaical scrutiny.
    if the cbi has insisted that he come to Delhi, a clear nefarious design is patent.
    cbi has an office in kolkata. if they wish to speak to a senior ips officer, they must go to his office. and if that officer insists the questions be in writing for whatever reason, he must be obliged.
    i think it is part of right to life for any person to request any authority to put all their questions in writing and to furnish all answers in writing, assuming the asking authority has the right to ask, so that no dispute can arise as to what was asked and what was answered, and if what was asked was something that can be asked under law and what was answered was in conformity with the legal liability to answer! the supreme court seem to have missed in finding out under which provision of law and what questions the cbi wanted to ask mr rajeev kumar. the cbi ought have been able to place the questions before the supreme court and the provision of code of criminal procedure under which it wanted to ask those questions.it would have been a simple matter for the supreme court to examine if the provision and questions were lawful, and ask mr kumar to answer them.
    police in general and cbi and other special police forces have been generally not fallowing the lawful procedure prescribed under the code of criminal procedure. that it self is a serious offence. but most victims do not have the where whittle to question and make police answerable.
    cbi appears to have been taking advantage of a not so learned order of the supreme court in directing them to investigate this matter.
    there appears to be a serious mistake on the part of supreme court to refer all and sundry matters to CBI or NSA disregarding the code of criminal procedure and the constitutional mandate of law and order and crimes being a state subject in the constitution of India.
    cbi is not vested with power to investigate matters in states unless the states have given a mandate.
    ruling parties in India have been blatantly misusing cbi to cow down their political opponents or save criminals belonging to the ruling party. supreme court of india has acknowledged the mischief for which cbi has been put to by different union governments over time.
    criminal procedure code is a law that governs all investigations in india.
    there is a provision for every situation.
    supreme court must respect that.
    supreme court must respect the basic structure of constitution concerning the separation of powers and the Federal structure provided by the constitution.
    if there is a grievance for anyone against any investigation officer, they have a right to move the concerned magistrate who is having superintending powers under the code of criminal procedure. he can provide for alternate investigations by another officer or a superior officer as per the code. and if he believes the police officers are incapable of doing their job, or are under political pressure from the state government or higher police officers, then the magistrate can appoint any person as an investigation officer.
    there is obviously no FIR about destruction of evidence in sarada scam by the earlier investigation team. any member of the earlier investigation team can not have any knowledge of sarada scam unless they were a participant in the original scam. any investigation officer can not therefore be called as a witness into sarada scam. if cbi has information or reason to believe, must reduce the alleged information into an FIR and send it to concerned magistrate and investigate the same under his supervision as is done into any cognizable offence.
    while that be the situation, the supreme court which is impossibly and unjustly burdened with too many cases appears to be loosing track of the law of the land and some how becoming a party to bringing in a partisan CBI into investigating offences alleged against the political adversaries of the party that is in power in union government and has all the power, motive, reason and even a necessity to misuse the machinery and powers of cbi against political adversaries.
    the cbi officers are stated to have given answer as a secrete operation behind their raid.
    the code of criminal procedure does not provide for or vest any authority in cbi or any police officer to conduct any operation that is secrete, and so secrete that it can not be disclosed to local police.
    any search operation requires necessary documentation as provided in the code of criminal procedure.
    the affidavit filed before supreme court to the extent reported does not appear to be satisfying any of the conditions mentioned in the code of criminal procedure. it is rather puzzling why the Honorable supreme court of india did not scrutinize this fiasco from the lens of of the code of criminal procedure.
    as the highest court in the land supreme court is vested with special powers. but generally it has been an established principle of the supreme court and various high courts to insist on fallowing the general law and procedure before any special and extraordinary jurisdiction is invoked. what prevented the supreme court from ensuring compliance of every aspect of the code of criminal procedure relevant to the circumstances of this case needs to be made public by legal luminaries present in the curt or by the supreme court itself. otherwise there will be serious erosion of faith in the supreme court and it’s application and exercise of the extraordinary power vested with it under constitution for special situations.
    i have another major serious worry concerning the unity and integrity of India.
    the union government has been misusing its armed forces and investigative and tax authorities to fix it’s political adversaries or to enlist legislators from adverse political parties to defect to it’s side or to make to neutralize them. union government and certain elements in kerala high court have been causing serious problems to kerala government which has been trying to give effect to the judgment of supreme court about entry of women into sabarimala temple.
    in Kashmir it has dismissed the state assembly.
    in north east it has been playing with fire destabilizing lawfully established elected governments.
    now it has brought in the citizenship act amendment bill passed in loksabha.
    north east states are seriously worried.
    it has been refusing special status promised in loksabha to new state of andhra pradesh
    west Bengal is a very key state geographically. it is the only connection between the north east of india and mainland India.
    erstwhile mighty USSR got broken down and a score or so of new countries have come into existence. they have all been more or less in some or other turmoil.
    the horn of Africa has been experiencing serious trouble.
    central Europe and parts of eastern Europe have got broken down into a few new countries.
    there has been a western powers and USA engineered coup in Ukraine against the elected government.
    trump appears to be bent upon invading Venezuela and tightening noose around Cuba. all this amidst development of superior high speed un matched missiles by Russia and china.
    there appears to be serious forces and trends of destabilization all around.
    the NDA government which in practice is modi shaw government has been playing with every kind of fire in different parts of India trying to usurp power that is not vested in it under the constitution. they appear to be openly subverting the constitution and it’s institutions without any remorse.
    i am seriously worried if this will provoke different peoples of India like the Bengal, tamilnadu and andhra and north east to examine their being part of the union of India.
    if elected governments are to be sabotaged like they are being now sabotaged, their options may shrink and forces of separation may rise their ugly head.
    is modi-shaw duo that foolish?
    they appear to be on a path of provocation of a very high degree to destabilize and to de-legitimize elected governments.
    i am seriously afraid about the consequences of their irresponsible actions.
    i wonder if others too see what see coming!

  2. I doubt if this raid was ordered by the interim Director of CBI. It had the hallmark of Mr Modi himself — sensational! Like DeMo announcement, GST celebration at midnight of announcement. If Amit Shah too was threatening to have the CP arrested as mentioned in this article, then he too might have nudged the PM to nudge Nageshwar Rao to act in this manner. Or who knows, he might have HIMSELF ordered Nageshwar Rao! Bizarre things have been happening in this country anyway. I have never seen the leader of a political party, who holds no government office, show the chutzpah of threatening a commissioner of police with arrest!

  3. The outgoing – interim – Director could have enjoyed his well deserved Sunday siesta, allowed the regular Director, whose appointment had been announced, to apply his mind to what appears to have been an old case, one amongst thousands, and decide the appropriate course of action.

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