New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the West Bengal police to double the number of policemen it had earlier offered to CBI to probe non-Sardha chit-fund scam cases in the state.
CBI, which is struggling under the weight of a huge number of ponzy scam cases, had rushed to the apex court seeking modification of its earlier order asking the agency to take over the probe into all such cases, on the ground of lack of manpower.
The probe agency said it has been probing around 970 chit-fund scam cases and was lacking manpower to register 265 non-Saradha cases pertaining to West Bengal alone.
It had demanded 10 SPs, 15 Investigating Officers (IOs) of the rank of Additional SPs, 30 IOs of the rank of Dy SPs and 85 IOs to rank of Inspectors from West Bengal police.
In addition, the agency had also said it needed 40 SIs, 20 ASIs and 30 Head Constables for this purpose.
During the hearing today, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, appearing for CBI, said in pursuance of the apex court’s direction, a meeting between the West Bengal DGP and Joint Director of CBI took place on the issue of supply of manpower to the central agency.
As against CBI’s demand, the state police was willing to provide only three DySPs, two Inspectors, five SIs and 10 constables, the Solicitor General said, adding that even these officers were not being sent on deputation to work for CBI.
“They are being sent as attachment and it means that the cadre controlling authority would be state police,” he said.
The bench then asked senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for West Bengal, to double the offer and provide the list of policemen which would be four times more in number than what was proposed by the state DGP.
“Out of the names of policemen, CBI will select half of them and they will be put on deputation with the CBI till the time they would be required,” the bench said, adding that no court, except it, will entertain any plea of any policemen regarding the deputation.
The CBI said there was paucity of as many as 754 officers and it was getting difficult for it to carry out the instructions of the court.
Earlier, the apex court had asked the CBI’s Director or Joint Director to meet West Bengal’s police chief and resolve the issue of additional hands from the state police to probe the multi-crore rupee chit fund scam cases.
The bench was hearing a fresh plea of CBI that it needed more personnel from state police to deal with these scam cases in the state.
The state government, in its reply, had stated that there were 26,000 vacancies in the police and it faced a severe crunch of work-force in higher posts.
The court, which termed as “justified” the submissions of the state and CBI both, asked them to sit together and resolve the matter.
The CBI said that 971 cases have been registered, of which 464 matters related to non-Saradha chit fund firms.
At present, the chit-fund cases are spread over various trial courts across the state and CBI wanted three special courts in Kolkata to deal with them, the Solicitor General had said.
Earlier, the court had taken strong note of CBI’s submission that it lacked manpower to handle all the chit fund scam cases.
“As per our earlier order, the entire investigation was transferred to CBI and now you (CBI) cannot decline to take up all the cases without seeking modification of the order,” it had said, adding “a plain reading of our earlier order says that all the cases stand transferred to CBI.”
However, the bench had clarified that CBI may seek modification of its earlier order.
The apex court had, on May 9 last year, ordered a CBI probe into the chit fund scam cases in West Bengal, Odisha and Assam allegedly involving various companies including Saradha, while taking note of allegations that scamsters were getting “patronage” of people in “high positions”.
So far, three ruling Trinamool Congress leaders, including West Bengal Transport Minister Madan Mitra and two MPs Srinjoy Bose and Kunal Ghosh, have been arrested in Saradha chit fund scam cases.
CBI has also questioned senior Trinamool leader and former Railway Minister Mukul Roy in connection with the case.