IAS officer G Kiran Kumar sent to CID custody

IAS officer G Kiran Kumar
IAS officer G. Kiran Kumar was sent to CID custody for four days today while the government prepared to suspend him as he was denied bail in an alleged funds misuse case in Siliguri.

Senior state government officials at Nabanna today said the government would issue a notification on Monday announcing Kumar's suspension after his bail plea was rejected.

"According to rules, if any government officer spends 48 hours behind bars, he is suspended immediately.... The official notification would be issued on Monday," said a senior government official.

Last night, Kumar, a joint secretary in the agriculture department, was arrested in the CID's office near Siliguri in a case of funds misuse in the Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority while sanctioning the making of an electric crematorium in Jalpaiguri.

Kumar had been the CEO of the development body from 2011-13 when three electric crematorium projects were sanctioned.

Another project was for the installation of CCTV cameras across Siliguri town. Funds misuse has been found in this project too.

CID sources said Kumar could not give a satisfactory explanation on why he had sanctioned several crores to a private firm for the crematorium project when hardly any work had been done.

"During investigation, it has been found that a sum of Rs 16.57 crore was allotted for the project, out of which Rs 9.74 crore was paid to the private construction firm even though it did not finish the work," the CID source said. "The former CEO could not clarify why the payment had been made."

Charges under IPC sections dealing with criminal breach of trust by public servant, cheating and forgery have been slapped on him.

In Calcutta, sources in the home department said late last evening, the additional director-general of police, CID, Rajeev Kumar, had informed chief minister Mamata Banerjee about the findings of the team questioning Kumar. The home secretary, too, was informed.

Sources said the officer was arrested only after a nod from the CMO.

In November 2013, Siliguri police had arrested Kumar in connection with the scam, but the next day chief secretary Sanjay Mitra said the Siliguri commissioner, K. Jayaraman, had overshot his brief by making the arrest. Kumar got bail the same day but was put on compulsory waiting that ended this January when he was appointed in the agriculture department.

When the detective department of Siliguri metropolitan police was investigating the case, it had questioned four board members, among them two MLAs - Rudranath Bhattacharya, the Siliguri MLA who was the SJDA chairman between 2011 and 2013, and Sankar Malakar, the Darjeeling district Congress president and an MLA.

Repeated calls to Bhattacharya went unanswered today. Malakar's phone was unreachable.

Lawyers representing Kumar raised questions on why members of the then SJDA board were not questioned by the CID.

Atri Sharma, one of the lawyers representing Kumar, said: "He was the CEO and mainly assigned with the task of execution. It is evident that he could not have taken any decision on his own or made any payment without the consent of board members."

The lawyer said: "So far, only some private contractors and this IAS officer have been arrested in connection with the scam. Some of the board members were questioned (by Siliguri police) back in 2013 but none of them was arrested."

Dinanath Mohanta, the assistant public prosecutor, said the court heard the case and granted four days' custody to CID. "We had sought the custody for more investigation. That he has siphoned off government funds has been found during investigation and the money needs to be recovered. The court heard the case and granted the custody," Mohanta said.

Protests were organised by the Congress and the Left over Kumar's arrest. Both wanted the SJDA board members to be questioned.

Sujoy Ghatak, a Congress councillor at SMC and a district leader led a group of around 100 party supporters to the SDO office's premises.

"We want arrest of all those people who were there in the SJDA when the scam occurred. Even if Sankar Malakar, who has been made a member for being an MLA and not for being the district Congress president, is found to be involved in the scam, he should also face the consequences," Ghatak said.

In the afternoon, SFI and DYFI took out a rally in the city, raising the same demand.(TT)

IAS officer G. Kiran Kumar was sent to CID custody for four days today while the government prepared to suspend him as he was denied bail in an alleged funds misuse case in Siliguri.

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