New Delhi: The Supreme Court will on Tuesday hear applications moved by the CBI alleging destruction of electronic evidence related to the Saradha chit fund scam case by the Kolkata Police commissioner.
The CBI alleged that it has moved the application as an extraordinary situation has arisen in which the top police officials of the West Bengal Police are sitting on a dharna along with a political party in Kolkata.
The applications accusing Kolkata Police chief Rajeev Kumar of destroying evidence related to the case and of him indulging in contempt of court was mentioned by Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta before a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjeev Khanna.
The bench declined the plea of the SG to hear the two applications on Monday in the post-lunch session, asking what the urgency was since the CBI officers who were detained by Kolkata Police while attempting to question Kumar were released on Sunday night.
It said during the interregnum it will be open for the solicitor general or any other party to lay before the court any material or evidence to show that any West Bengal authority or police official is planning or trying to destroy evidence related to the case
The top court said all material or evidence has to be placed before it by means of affidavit.
“We will come down heavily on him (Kolkata police commissioner) if there’s any material to show evidence is sought to be destroyed,” the CJI said.
“When did you file your plea? This morning and we’ve already read it. In fact, we were late to the court by a few minutes because we were reading your applications. And there’s no evidence of what you’re saying right now,” the CJI added.
At the outset, the SG said an “extraordinary situation has arisen making the CBI to move the application for apex court’s intervention”.
He alleged that on Sunday night CBI officers were taken into custody by the West Bengal Police when they had gone to the Kolkata police commissioner’s office for evidence in connection with the probe in the Saradha scam.
Mehta said not only were the sleuths arrested, but the residence of Joint Director (East) Pankaj Shrivastav was surrounded by the state police and his family was kept hostage.
Even the CBI office at the CGO complex in Kolkata was under siege, the law officer said.
When the SG was making the submissions, the bench asked him what was the position on Monday morning to which he replied that senior CBI officials have been released.
The joint director through tele-conference told media channels about his house being laid under siege and the family being under virtual hostage, the solicitor general said.
He said there was a need for immediate order as the Kolkata Police commissioner, who has come under the lens of the CBI, is likely to destroy the electronic evidence and material related to the Saradha scam.
The Commissioner of Police, Kolkata had not responded to the CBI’s repeated summons to join the investigation and “when our team reached to his residence, they were arrested,” solicitor general Mehta said.
Then the bench said the CBI officials are no longer under the arrest.
To this, the SG replied that on a daily basis FIRs are being registered by the state police against the agency’s officials.
Mehta told the court that the agency had filed two interim applications. The first application seeks a direction form the apex court that the Kolkata Police chief should immediately surrender and should not tamper or destroy any evidence, he said.
The second application is about the contempt of court committed by the police commissioner as there was an apex court order to carry out the investigation into the case, Mehta said.
However, the bench said it will hear the matter on Tuesday morning after indicating that it was not going to hear the matter Monday.
The SG said it was a case of an “extraordinary situation as the police commissioner sitting on dharna with a political party.”
“Please take cognisance that people in uniform are sitting on dharna with a political party and hear the matter at 2 pm. The evidence which is in the electronic form will be destroyed,” said the SG.
Taking note of his submissions the bench said, “If at all the evidence is destroyed, it is in electronic form and can be retrieved.”
It said even if the police commissioner is remotely trying to destroy evidence, “we will come down so heavily on him that he will regret”.
The bench also said it has gone through the contempt petition and there is nothing in it and that’s why the bench has sat five minutes late.
At this moment, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi appearing for the West Bengal government tried to make some submissions opposing the CBI plea but the bench interrupted and passed the order.