Men talk on mobile phones outside a Vodafone India Ltd. store in Mumbai, India (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)  

Supreme Court Seeks Reply From Vodafone, Airtel On Call Records In Saradha Scam

The Supreme Court agreed to hear a plea of the Central Bureau of Investigation against mobile service providers Vodafone and Bharti Airtel Ltd. that they were not cooperating with the investigation in Saradha chit fund scam case.

The CBI claimed that they were not providing it full call detail records of the accused in the scam despite repeated requests.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna issued notice and sought the reply of mobile service providers by April 8, the next date of hearing.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CBI, said the service providers were not cooperating with the probe agency despite repeated requests for the call detail rccords.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the companies, denied the allegations and said they are providing all the necessary assistance to the agency.

The CBI had recently filed a status report relating to the interrogation of the then Kolkata Police commissioner Rajeev Kumar in connection with the scam.

The apex court had on March 26 termed as "very very serious" the revelations made by the CBI in its status report relating to interrogation of Kumar.

The top court had said that it cannot "close its eyes" if some "very very serious facts" were disclosed to it and directed the agency to file an application seeking appropriate relief against Kumar, who had earlier headed the state Special Investigation Team to probe the chit fund scam.

It had refused to drop the contempt proceedings against the West Bengal DGP, the chief secretary and Kumar.

It was hearing the CBI's contempt application against various senior officials of the West Bengal government on the ground of non-cooperation in its probe and alleged tampering of evidence, including call detail records of key accused and Saradha group CMD Sudipta Sen and Debjani Mukherjee.

The court, which had earlier directed the CBI director to file an affidavit giving details about the alleged contempt committed by West Bengal cops and others in the case, had perused the reply of the CBI chief and the fresh status report, pertaining to quizzing of Kumar.

The agency alleged non-cooperation by the West Bengal Police and providing of incomplete information as also tampering with details.

The apex court had said that the allegations made by the CBI were serious enough and it was an "obligation" on part of the agency to disclose full details of the alleged contempt committed by the then police commissioner.

It had questioned the CBI for the delay in moving the apex court when the agency allegedly noticed the tampering of electronic evidence in June 2018.

The probe agency came out with a contempt petition after the Feb. 3 incident in which the CBI sleuths, who had gone to probe Kumar at his residence, were taken into custody and manhandled by the West Bengal Police.

Though the apex court had taken note of the Feb. 3 incident in which the top police officers of the state police allegedly sat with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on dharna, it was annoyed as to why the CBI did not bring to its notice the tampering of the call detail records when it happened in June 2018.