Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar on Monday told the Supreme Court that the CBI tried to forcefully enter his residence on February 3 without valid papers.In separate affidavits, West Bengal Chief secretary Malay Kumar De, DGP Virendera Kumar and Mr. Kumar refuted the allegations levelled at them by the CBI of obstructing the apex court-ordered probe into ponzi scams including the mutli-crore Saradha chit fund case.However, in case the court prima facie felt that their action was contemptuous as alleged by the CBI, the three officials said they were tendering an “unconditional and unambiguous apology.” The officials from West Bengal also accused the CBI of levelling vague allegations against them without cogent evidence to back them up. For instance, they submitted that no police officer was part of the protests organised by the Trinamool Congress Party and led by State Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee.The CBI, represented by Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, had argued before a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi that uniformed police officers had participated in the protest.Mr. Kumar said “his presence, adjacent to the site of dharna” was to “discharge his duties”. He said both the Director General of Police and Inspector General of Police, West Bengal, had come to the protest site, which had also served as a makeshift secretariat/camp office of the Chief Minister.The police official said he had been at the location to ensure that no unforeseen situation arose in a ‘volatile and evolving situation’, adding that 76 cases had been lodged in connection with the chit fund scam.Mr. Kumar is walking a tightrope as the apex court had on February 4 said that “if the police commissioner is even remotely trying to destroy evidence, we will come down so heavily on him that he will regret.” Mr. Kumar was also questioned by the CBI in Shillong on the apex court’s orders.In his affidavit, Mr. Kumar denied having acted in any manner so as to protect the ruling party’s leaders involved in the scam. He said he did not possess exclusively any evidence against them. Nor had he done anything to subvert the orders of the apex court.“Materials have either been in the exclusive custody of the various Investigating Officers as part of the investigative units under their supervisory officers across the State and/or the appropriate courts in accordance with applicable law,” Mr. Kumar submitted.On his role as part of West Bengal’s Special Investigation Team (SIT), which had probed the ponzi scams before it was transferred to the CBI by the apex court, Mr. Kumar said he was only acting as an “administrative and logistic coordinator” in the team.Mr. Kumar said there were Assistant Commissioner of Police, Deputy Commissioner of Police and Joint Commissioner of Police rank officers for closer and direct supervision of the investigation of cases in Bidhannagar Police Commissionerate, where the deponent was posted as Commissioner of Police.Mr. Kumar also asserted that it was “very intriguing” as to why the CBI chose the last working day of then interim CBI Director M. Nageswara Rao to question him.“It seems very intriguing as to why such a major decision could not wait even for a single day for the new Director CBI to join, especially when the last notice was issued to the answering respondent, after a gap of more than a year,” he said in the affidavit.Mr. Kumar contended that the CBI’s bid to question him was against the Calcutta High Court’s order of abeyance.The apex court is scheduled to hear the case on February 20.
The Janata Dal (U) reacted with some relief to Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s statement to a television channel that his party would go into the Bihar Assembly polls in 2020 under the leadership of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, ending all speculation that the BJP was mulling its options. Bihar Minister and JD(U) leader Sanjay Jha, said on Twitter: “I appreciate BJP president Amit Shah’s statement quelling rumours about the “rift” in our alliance. Together we are committed to continue to brighten Bihar.” Senior BJP leader and former Union minister Sanjay Paswan had publicly espoused his view that Mr Kumar should be replaced by a BJP candidate for chief minister, while others in the State unit had felt that if not a change in chief ministerial candidate, the BJP should demand an equal number of seats in the seat sharing arrangement. Senior sources in the party said that particular demand will still stand when seat adjustment is discussed closer to the polls. “Mr Shah’s statement makes it clear that the leadership question is settled. He is clear that he does not want a three-way fight in Bihar. The question of the number of seats each party will fight is still open,” say sources. Sources in the JD(U), however, feel the fact that Mr. Kumar will be the chief ministerial candidate for the alliance in Bihar, will prevent any reduction in its status in the alliance, unlike what happened to the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, with the party contesting fewer seats than the BJP in the State. “Nitish Kumar is the CM face, and, therefore, his party will be big brother,” said a source. BJP leaders may not exactly agree with the postulation as they feel that the political ground has shifted in their favour in Bihar because of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership. The last time the two parties fought an Assembly poll in an alliance was in 2010, where the JD(U) got a lion’s share of the seats at 142, and the BJP fought on 101 seats in the 243 member House. “Certainly the seat adjustment will be more equitable than that,” said a senior leader from Bihar.