Wed. Apr 24th, 2019

Mamata vs Centre: CM continues dharna as issue rocks Parliament; SC to hear matter today

New Delhi/ Kolkata: Even as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee continued her dharna over CBI’s attempt to question city police chief Rajeev Kumar in chit fund cases, its ripple effect was felt in Parliament in New Delhi and the battle also moved to the Supreme Court, which will hear the matter on Tuesday.
A day after a CBI team that had gone to Kolkata to question Kumar in connection with chit fund scams was briefly detained, the probe agency wasted no time in moving the Supreme Court on Monday morning, seeking directions to West Bengal government to cooperate with the investigation and to make available the police commissioner for interrogation. The CBI has alleged in its petition that Kumar, who headed the Special Investigation Team (SIT) that was formed by the state in April 2013 to probe the Saradha chit fund scam, destroyed electronic evidence related to the ponzi scam cases. The case was taken up by the CBI in 2014 on the Supreme Court’s orders. Turning down the CBI’s petition for urgent hearing, the apex court bench, comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjeev Khanna, asked the agency to place all evidence before it through an affidavit while saying it would come down heavily on Kumar if he “even remotely” tried to destroy the evidence. The West Bengal government also filed a petition in the Calcutta High Court against the CBI’s attempt to question the Kolkata police chief at his residence. The HC also refused an immediate hearing and listed the matter on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the standoff between the Bengal government and CBI echoed in the Parliament on Monday as both the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha were adjourned as Opposition parties, led by the TMC, protested against the misuse of the probe agency. Making a statement in the Lok Sabha, Home Minister Rajnath Singh termed the developments in West Bengal as “unprecedented”. “The incident in Kolkata is a threat to the federal political system of the country. There may be a constitutional breakdown in Bengal. Under the Constitution, the Central government has been vested with the power to maintain normalcy in any part of the country,” he said, as Opposition parties raised slogans such as “chowkidar hi chor hai” and “CBI tota hai” (CBI is a parrot). Singh also sought a report from Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi on the prevailing situation in Kolkata, which was promptly sent by Raj Bhavan after the Special Investigation Branch (SIB) submitted its findings. The governor also held discussions with state Chief Secretary Malay De.

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