New Delhi: A mega scam, an investigator, a secret Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) note, tug of war between bureaucrats and dithering views of government agencies — that's not the gist of a fictional story but what is currently happening in the finance ministry.
It all started when the Supreme Court directed the Centre and allowed it to examine the allegations of disproportionate assets made against Enforcement Directorate's Joint Director Rajeshwar Singh, who is investigating the 2G spectrum scam and the Aircel-Maxis case involving former finance minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram. The Supreme Court's earlier order had given protection to Singh from any inquiry till the investigation into Aircel Maxis case was completed. On Wednesday, the vacation bench, comprising Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul hearing the PIL filed by Rajneesh Kapur, not only allowed the government to investigate the allegations, but also left it to the government to take a decision on Singh's role in the Aircel Maxis investigation from hereon. The Supreme Court order came after the Additional Solicitor General Vikramjit Banerjee, representing the central government, told the court that the government was probing the matter and submitted some sensitive information to the bench in a sealed envelope. The bench observed that it was a highly sensitive issue and there were some serious allegations.
What was so sensitive in that envelope?
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) responded with a press statement disclosing the details and countering its own government's assertion about the investigation and the secret note. Without naming RAW, the ED said that Singh had received a call in 2016 from a person based out of Dubai. The person had important information related to a case and Singh had reported it to the ED but subsequently the matter was closed.
"This is with reference to some secret report submitted in the Supreme Court regarding Rajeshwar Singh, who is currently investigating Aircel Maxis and 2G spectrum cases. To put the record straight, Rajeshwar Singh received a call in 2016 from a person based out of Dubai, who gave important information regarding a case being investigated by the ED. Rajeshwar Singh passed on this information to the Directorate and the same was used in the investigation of the case. It is important to note that he received only one call and that too it was an incoming call from this person from Dubai. Rajeshwar Singh is a responsible officer with outstanding career records. A report related to the matter was generated by an intelligence agency about this call which was duly clarified by the Directorate that the phone call was related to an ongoing investigation. The matter was laid to rest," ED in a statement said.
The directorate also tried to puncture government claim of sensitive information by asserting that "one Radhey Shyam Rai connected with Upendra Rai, who was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation and ED had access to the secret report as Radhey Shyam Rai has already tweeted about it."
Simply put, the ED not only contradicted government's submission in the court, it went a step further and came out all guns blazing by demolishing the content of 'secret report' against its officer Rajeshwar Singh and vouched for impeccable integrity. But that wasn't the end.
Minutes later, a letter was leaked through informal channels revealing that Singh had written a letter to Secretary (Revenue) Hasmukh Adhia almost two weeks ago in which Singh claimed that some people were targetting him to derail the ongoing investigation into the Aircel Maxis case, which as Singh said in the letter, "at a very crucial stage in order to protect big fish." Singh's scathing letter also alleged that corrupt and fixers have gained free access of the corridors of Ministry of Finance while honest officers failed to gain audience. The letter was forwarded to revenue secretary by ED director Karnal Singh.
"Mr. P. Chidambaram made my life an accentuated hell as I was investigating him and his son Karthi….As amusing as it may sound, Mr. Chidambaram sported an open and direct grudge against the undersigned (Singh) because of Supreme Court monitored Aircel-Maxis investigation. However, what thoroughly baffles the undersigned, is the animosity you have fashioned against me by siding with scamsters and affiliates in a sustained manner. It has become more than difficult for me to survive this continued onslaught and persistent vilification from all the quarters for doing my job," Singh wrote.
The 5-page letter to revenue secretary also observed that fixers and touts who had unhindered access during the previous regime still rule the roost and honest officers are being hounded by anonymous and mischievous complaints. Singh also pointed out that his promotion was unnecessarily delayed by the government not just to humiliate him but to ensure that investigation in mega scam gets derailed. Singh wrote:
"Time and again, you have indicated to a lot of senior officers that I have been delaying the investigation in the Aircel-Maxis case to extend my stay in Delhi. As an officer under the PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act), it is important for you to understand the nature and dynamics of the Scheduled Offences and it is very pertinent to ask if the CBI has filed a Charge Sheet in this case? Have I not gone ahead with attachment of assets in this case even before the CBI has filed a chargesheet? My attachment order was confirmed on 12.03.2018 by the adjudicating authority under the PMLA. Can any officer under PMLA conclude investigation without chargesheet by predicate agency?"
"It pains me further that you have expressed many a times to senior officers over casual conversations that I have been manipulating the judiciary, especially the Supreme Court of India. It is strange and also unbelievable that after so many years in public service, you believe that so many judges can be manipulated and that too over such a long period of time! Our present attorney general, who was also convinced that I was being hounded, requested the Apex Court for appropriate protection in my case — you do not seem agree even with the learned attorney general," Singh further wrote in the letter to Adhia.
BJP Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy also supported Singh and said that the entire matter is aimed at weakening Prime Minister Narendra Modi and he must constitute a high-powered committee of officials of his PMO to investigate it thoroughly. Swamy also said that some bureaucrats were targetting honest officers and he would soon expose the names of those conspiring against Modi sarkar.
Updated Date: Jun 28, 2018 14:00 PM