New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday favoured a probe into allegations against an Enforcement Directorate (ED) officer involved in the investigation into the "highly sensitive" 2G spectrum allocation scam and cases arising out of it including the Aircel-Maxis deal, saying "no officer should be under any cloud".
A vacation bench comprising justices Arun Mishra and SK Kaul said that allegations levelled against senior ED official Rajeshwar Singh, who is probing the Aircel-Maxis deal case, were serious and required to be looked into.
Additional Solicitor General Vikramjit Banerjee, appearing for the Centre, told the court that the government was willing to investigate the allegations that Singh amassed disproportionate assets and handed over a communication in a sealed cover to the bench.
The bench, after perusing documents placed before it in a sealed cover, said sensitive issues were involved in the matter.
"As a matter of fact, when there are allegations, whether right or wrong against you (Singh) it has to be looked into," the bench said, adding "the things which have come before us are startling."
"You are simply an officer. You can't be given a blanket clean chit. Everybody is accountable. You must be accountable for any action. We need to ensure that you are accountable. We don't want to damage you or comment against you. There are very serious allegations against you," the bench told the officer.
The court has modified its interim order granting protection to Singh against inquiry. It said that it will be the government's call whether Singh will have any role to play in further probe in Aircel-Maxis case. The apex court referred to the Centre's affidavit, saying govt has said it does not intend to protect anybody in the case. Singh has reportedly gone on one year leave, according to CNN-News18.
Rajneesh Kapur, who claims to be an investigative journalist, has filed a petition in the apex court seeking investigation against Singh for allegedly amassing assets which are disproportionate to his known source of income.
Singh has also filed a separate contempt plea against Kapur and has claimed that attempts have been made to scuttle or delay the ongoing probe in the Aircel-Maxis case.
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has also moved the top court seeking its permission to implead himself as a party in the plea filed by Kapur.
The apex court had on 12 March set a deadline of six months for the CBI and the ED to complete the investigation into the alleged irregularities in FIPB approval given in the Aircel-Maxis deal case in which former Finance Minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti have been questioned by probe agencies.
At the outset, the counsel appearing for Kapur, told the bench that he is an investigative journalist and said that he has filed the petition against Singh since the issue was very serious.
The lawyer claimed that after filing of the petition, Kapur has been "gravely threatened" and it was pointed it out him that Singh, who was earlier posted with the Uttar Pradesh Police, has 23 recorded encounters.
"He was posted with the Uttar Pradesh Police and he was an encounter specialist. I (Kapur) need protection from court," the lawyer said and alleged that Singh was working with impunity and has disregarded the authority of the court, government and as well as his superiors.
When the bench asked the lawyer about prayers in his petition, he said that he was seeking an unbiased investigation in the matter.
"What is the necessity of these directions? The government can always look into the allegations against anybody," the bench observed.
Kapur's counsel, however, claimed that Singh has clout and the apex court's earlier order says no action can be taken against this officer.
When the counsel said that Singh has got Swamy to "cover up for him", the bench shot back, "Don't be personal. We are not impressed by these kind of submissions as to who is proxy for whom. We don't know for whom you are appearing".
The lawyer then claimed that the probe in the 2G spectrum and Aircel-Maxis case by agencies would not lead to anything as they have not investigated anything at all.
At this juncture, Banerjee, told the bench that the government was willing to investigate the allegations, including that of disproportionate assets against Singh, and they have filed an affidavit also.
"Of course, the Supreme Court's order comes in our way," Banerjee said and placed before the bench a communication in a sealed cover saying that sensitive information was there in the document.
After the court perused the document placed before the court in a sealed cover, senior advocate R S Suri, appearing for Singh, said there was serious issue of maintainability of the writ petition filed by Kapur.
"We had given six months time (to CBI and ED to complete the ongoing investigation) and protection was granted (to Singh). This matter is highly sensitive from the country's point of view. We cannot just divulge the content of this (communication in sealed cover) to anybody. It may prejudice your client (Singh) also. It is not advisable that it goes in public domain," the bench said.
"It is highly sensitive. Issues of nation's security are also involved. These are serious issues. We cannot shut our eyes to it," the bench observed.
The court disposed of the petitions filed by Kapur, Singh as well as that by Swamy. The bench also made it clear that it has not commented against anybody in its order.
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Updated Date: Jun 27, 2018 15:31:25 IST