Kolkata Police vs CBI: Central agency’s plea skirts Supreme Court advice on moving High Court

Kolkata Police vs CBI: Central agency’s plea skirts Supreme Court advice on moving High Court

Apex court passed the order on agency’s complaint of harassment of its officers

The CBI’s application before the Supreme Court seeking the court’s intervention for ensuring the “immediate surrender” of the Kolkata Police Commissioner highlights a July 16, 2018, order of the court, in which the Bench ruled that the State police must work “in tandem” with the CBI to complete the chit fund scam investigation.

The CBI has, however, omitted in its application any reference to another part of the same Supreme Court order, where the Bench advises the agency to approach the Calcutta High Court in case it encounters any “obstruction” from the West Bengal government or its machinery.

The West Bengal government, meanwhile, moved the High Court on Monday. The State did so shortly after a Supreme Court Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, asked the CBI to produce proof, within 24 hours, to back its claim that Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar tampered with evidence.

The July 16, 2018, order was the last in a series of orders passed by the Supreme Court on a miscellaneous application filed by the CBI in 2017 alleging harassment faced by its officers at the hands of the West Bengal police.

The CBI had complained that its officers were frequently “called” by the State police.

Acting on the 2017 application, the Supreme Court first barred the State police from calling CBI officers. This interim order of December 15, 2017, was then extended from time to time.

On July 16 last year, while disposing of the 2017 application, a Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and S. Abdul Nazeer commented in their order that “it is not a happy state of affairs that CBI officers should be called by the State Police.”

The Bench then, in the same order, said the CBI and the State Police “have to work in tandem with each other.”

The Bench said this was the “expectation of the court as far investigation of the criminal case is required.”

The apex court declined to delve into any of the CBI’s grouses regarding probe into electronic equipment like laptop, mobile phones, etc. On this, the Bench said the Supreme Court was only on the issue of having CBI as the investigating agency in the chit fund cases.

Finally, in the order, the court touched on what the CBI ought to do in case of any obstruction from the State in the future.

“Since the investigation is pending, it would be open for the CBI, in case any obstruction is faced by its officers, similarly, in case the State machinery has any objection, they are free to approach the High Court at Calcutta,” Justices Mishra and Nazeer had directed.

This part of the July 16, 2018, order is not mentioned in the current CBI application.

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