NEW DELHI, July 27 - The Supreme Court today issued notices to the Government of Assam and DG Assam Police on a petition filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) challenging the Gauhati High Court�s direction to it to take up 481 cases relating to the multi-crore-rupee chit fund scam.
A Division Bench of the apex court comprising Justice TS Thakur and Justice C Nagappan heard the CBI and allowed its plea. The CBI was asked by the Gauhati High Court to file a status report by tomorrow, but the time was extended. The apex court granted two more weeks� time to the CBI for filing the status report in the Gauhati High Court.
�The High Court will be free to monitor 15 cases, which were initially handed over to the CBI,� the Bench said.
Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar and Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, appearing for the CBI, said the agency lacks manpower and cannot handle the burden of probing all 481 FIRs lodged in the State.
The agency has taken over four big cases in the State, they said, adding that the High Court order asking the CBI to take over all 481 cases was wrong.
The Gauhati High Court had in January this year, asked the Assam government to hand over all the cases relating to various chit fund companies and non-banking financial companies (NBFC) to the CBI without further delay.
The order was passed as the court was dissatisfied with the progress made by State agencies, the Bench said.
The CBI is currently probing 15 FIRs and has registered four regular cases. The cases include two involving the Saradha Chit Fund Company and two other NBFCs.
The CBI told the Supreme Court that there were 481 cases involving 221 companies and it had challenged the Gauhati High Court order directing it to take up all the cases relating to the scam. The Supreme Court had in May 2014, ordered a CBI inquiry into all chit fund fraud cases in West Bengal, Odisha and Assam.
In January, a Division Bench of the Gauhati High Court had directed the Tarun Gogoi government to hand over all cases related to various chit fund companies to the CBI.
The order was passed by acting Chief Justice K Sridhar Rao and Justice PK Saikia. The Bench had taken exception to the �not-so-satisfactory� progress made by the CID and the Bureau of Investigation into Economic Offences of the Assam Police, which were investigating the cases.
The Gauhati High Court�s direction came notwithstanding a plea by the CBI not to hand over more cases to it as it was already overburdened.
The High Court had asked the CBI to constitute an SIT if necessary, apart from designating a DIG-level officer to exclusively supervise these cases.
The High Court further directed the Assam government to hand over those cases in which chargesheets had been submitted and final reports made.