The Controversial West Bengal vs. CBI Spat

The Controversial West Bengal vs. CBI Spat

With the elections fast approaching,  Mamta Banerjee’s militant characteristics are back, this time in the form of “Save India” sit-in protest (dharna) in Kolkata. This protest began when the CBI approached Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar, to bid question in chit fund scam cases. Mamta’s stand on the protest is supposedly “rescuing” the Constitution of the country, which BJP, allegedly, is trying to breakdown. This led to high tension between the State and the CBI.

The Story

The CBI officers, led by its deputy superintendent Tathagata Bardhan, went to the Kolkata Police commissioner Rajeev Kumar’s official residence on Loudon Street on Sunday evening to question him, on the grounds of ‘official work’. When the officers tried to enter the residence, firstly they were stopped by Kolkata police personnel and when they further agitated to enter the residence of the Commissioner, they were forcibly taken away to Shakespeare Sarani police station in Kolkata by the deployed Kolkata Police team.

This resulted in the detention of five CBI officers. After a closed meeting, Mamta declared in a press conference that she will be going on dharna against the Modi Government, in order to protect the constitution of and India. She said “I am ready to give my life, but I am not ready to bow down. I take pride in my police force.”

CBI, Rajeev Kumar & Saradha Scam

Rajeev Kumar was the head of the SIT which was investigating the Saradha scam. The Saradha Group financial scandal is a major financial scam where a consortium of over 200 companies was believed to be running an investment scheme. This group of companies collected around $4–6 billion from over 1.7 million depositors before it collapsed in April 2013. [TOI]

The CBI suspects that Rajeev Kumar is in possession of the documents which are extremely crucial to the scandal. After the Supreme Court directed the CBI to look into the matter, the CBI asked Rajeev Kumar to hand over the documents found by the SIT. After finding out that few documents were missing from what was handed over, the CBI sent repeated summons to Rajeev Kumar, where he refused to present himself.

The SIT was formed by Mamata Banerjee in 2013 to probe into the Saradha scam.

The Spat

On Sunday night, Mamta said “They (CBI ) came to CP’s residence without any court order or warrant. The matter is sub-judice at the Calcutta High Court and there is a stay order. This is blatantly wrong and infringement on federal structure.” According to her, CBI is being used a tool by the BJP as political vendetta.

Here is what Mamta tweeted-

The highest levels of the BJP leadership are doing the worst kind of political vendetta. Not only are political parties their targets, they are misusing power to take control of the police and destroy all institutions. We condemn this 1/2” (10:10 PM - 2 Feb 2019)

“The Kolkata Police Commissioner is among the best in the world. His integrity, bravery and honesty are unquestioned. He is working 24x7, and was on leave for only one day recently. When you spread lies, the lies will always remain lies 2/2” (10:10 PM - 2 Feb 2019)

Mamata Banerjee said, “Is it a political coup? Is it Article 355 or 356 next? I have been made a target for holding the January 19 United India rally in Kolkata. I did not buckle. I have received information that CBI officers were regularly called by PM Narendra Modi in his house and were asked, “Kuch to karo”. These things always start before elections. We have seen such vindictive attitude before the 2016 Assembly elections and now they have again started. And that’s why I have begun this satyagraha.”

The CBI director has said that there is no constitutional violation since the probe was in accordance with the order of the Supreme Court. He further stated that there is evidence against Kumar that he has been involved in the destruction of important documents and has been reluctant to support CBI in the probe.

Was the action of arrest by Kolkata police legit?

There have been several instances where State governments have withdrawn consent from CBI to operate within their territories. Section 6 of Delhi Special Police Establishment Act says, “Nothing contained in Section 5 (which deals with jurisdiction of CBI) shall be deemed to enable any member of the Delhi Special Police Establishment to exercise powers and jurisdiction in any area in a State, not being a Union Territory or Railway, area, without the consent of the Government of that State.”

West Bengal has withdrawn its consent from CBI to operate so.

However, it has been clearly stated by the Supreme Court that when the SC itself or a High Court directs that a particular investigation be handed over to the CBI, there is no need for any consent under the DSPE Act.

Clearly, the Mamata Government is in violation of the DPSE Act.

Not vision, but corruption seems to unite TMC & INC

Earlier in April 2018, Senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Pradip Bhattacharya said “As far as West Bengal is concerned, I know that there would be no chance of a political understanding between Congress and Trinamool Congress party. But I am very optimistic that Trinamool Congress would help our party form the government at the Centre next year.”

Adhir Chowdhury, Congress’ Bengal Chief, said that Rahul Gandhi had told him to continue campaigning against the ruling party in 2018 three tier Panchayat elections.

It looked like that there could be no understanding between the Congress and TMC.

However, on this matter of high controversy, Rahul Gandhi has supported Mamta Banerjee. Heres what he tweeted, “I spoke with Mamata Di tonight and told her we stand shoulder to shoulder with her. The happenings in Bengal are a part of the unrelenting attack on India’s institutions by Mr Modi & the BJP. The entire opposition will stand together & defeat these fascist forces.”

Other opposition leaders such, Akhilesh Yadav, Yashwant Sinha, Mehbooba Mufti, Tejashwi and Lalu Yadav led out their heartfelt support to Mamta. Leaving us with one simple, yet important question: Has the opposition been showing solidarity to save Democracy or to save “themselves”?

Nonetheless, putting at rest the controversy, for now, the Supreme Court of India has intervened in the matter and issued directives for both the CBI as well as for the Police Chief of the Kolkata.

At one hand, the Top Court asked the CBI not to take any coercive step against  Mr.Rajeev and on the other hand, the Court directed him to co-operate with the agency in its probe pertaining to the Ponzi schemes.

(Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is given only to provide helpful information and understanding on the subject/topic of law discussed. The contents of this article are not the views of Amie Legal and Amie Legal does not take any responsibility or liability for the opinions expressed by the Author herein.)
Akhilesh Yadav
All India Trinamool Congress (AITC)
CBI probe
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)
Congress Party
Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act 1946
Kolkata Police commissioner Rajeev Kumar
Lalu Prasad Yadav
Mamata Banerjee
Mehbooba Mufti
Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Rahul Gandhi
Saradha Chit Fund Scam
Tejashwi Yadav
Yashwant Sinha

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