The city police on Monday wrote to an Enforcement Directorate (ED) official in Bhubaneswar asking him to keep himself free for questioning on Tuesday in connection with a probe into alleged links of Rajiv Kumar, a Ranchi-based lawyer arrested in Kolkata.
Popularly known as the “PIL man” for filing over 100 public interest litigations (PILs) in courts across Jharkhand, Kumar was arrested on July 31 from the parking lot of a mall in Kolkata for allegedly extorting lakhs of rupees from a city-based businessman.
The police said they found Rs 50 lakh on him, the money allegedly handed by the businessman. Kumar was arrested following a complaint of extortion lodged by the businessman.
Officers probing Kumar’s alleged links said they had found enough evidence that the Ranchi-based lawyer frequently communicated with the Bhubaneswar-based ED official they want to question. Kumar’s phone details have revealed that there was a heavy exchange of messages with the ED official, officers said.
“We want to question the ED official to find out what the exchange was all about. We want to clarify certain points,” said a senior officer of Kolkata police.
The case under the scanner of Kolkata police revolves around a PIL Kumar had filed in 2021 alleging that Hemant Soren, chief minister of Jharkhand, had illegally allocated a mining lease when he was holding the mining portfolio.
Besides Soren, the PIL has named several others, including a Kolkata-based company and its director, officers said. Kumar had allegedly contacted the company’s director recently and told him that he would take care of him if he paid Rs 10 crore.
The amount was later allegedly scaled down to Rs 1 crore. Kumar is said to have been receiving the first instalment of Rs 50 lakh when he was arrested.
Officers said they found that a few days before his arrest, Kumar had filed three PILs on behalf of a petitioner. Two of the PILs were against the Jharkhand chief minister, of which one was regarding the allocation of mining lease by Soren.
The third was against Soren’s close aides accused of money laundering and alleged investments in shell companies, which are currently being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
Investigators said the ED official they want to question had been posted in Ranchi since 2016 till he was transferred to Bhubaneswar recently. A team of Kolkata police officers will arrive in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday for questioning.
ED officials said the agency was ready to face Kolkata police. “If ED is made a party to a PIL by the court, there will be an exchange of messages between the official concerned and the advocate who filed the PIL,” said an official.