NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday gave go ahead to government to investigate charges against Enforcement Directorate (ED) officer Rajeshwar Singh who is probing the highly sensitive 2G spectrum allocation scam cases including the Aircel-Maxis deal. A vacation bench of Justices Arun Mishra and S K Kaul vacated its order which had protected Singh from all probe and says Centre can take a call whether to keep Singh associated with Aircel-Maxis case or not and said, "An officer under a cloud cannot investigate the Aircel Maxis case."
The order came on a petition from a journalist Rajneesh Kapur 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.
During the hearing today, after pursuing the sealed cover report submitted by Additional Solicitor General Vikramjit Banerjee, the bench said, "The matter is sensitive and involves national security. You are simply an officer. You can't be given a blanket clean chit. Everybody is accountable." The apex court also modified its interim order granting protection to Singh against inquiry and referred to the Centre's affidavit which stated that it does not intend to protect anybody in the case. Meanwhile, Singh reportedly went on one year leave.
"This information is not meant for anyone else to see but we can't shut our eyes to something like this. What happened years back in 2005 etc. is not material to us. But the government has placed this information before us which is why the contents of the petition are not that important," Justice Kaul remarked while disposing of the petitions filed by Rajneesh Kapur, Rajeshwar Singh as well as that by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy.
The bench also took on record the government's assurance that the investigation would be done as per the specific time schedule fixed by the top court which, on March 12, had given a deadline of six months to complete the probe. Senior advocate R S Suri, representing Singh, objected to the averments made in Kapur's petition and urged the court to call the officer in camera and look into the matter. CBI and the ED are investigating a foreign investment clearance granted in 2006 for the Aircel-Maxis deal, when P Chidambaram was Finance Minister in the UPA government.
Meanwhile, senior BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy allegedly named the Finance Secretary Hansmukh Adia for giving a seven month old R&AW note to the apex court today while no action was taken on Rajeshwar Singh's letter. Swamy said, "The note of R&AW is supposedly a secret but was available with Upendra Rai and his associate. If indeed Danish Shah is an ISI agent, the R&AW should be dismantled. Danish has visited Delhi 10 times and he is constantly in touch with senior BJP cabinet minister. He is also in touch with more than half a dozen senior IPS and IAS officers."
In the 9-page letter Singh wrote on June 11 stated "Am I being targeted because i do not appear to be submissive and speak my mind on all issues assigned to me." Singh has alleged in his letter that the former finance Minister P Chidambaram made his life hell and that an attempt was made to remove him from the probe.
"What thoroughly baffles the undersigned is the animosity you have fashioned against me by siding with scamsters and their 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 adding how his promotion too was scuttled.
Backing his officer, ED in an official statement said, "Rajeshwar Singh received a call in 2016 from a person based out of Dubai who gave important information regarding a case being investigated by agency, being a responsible officer with outstanding career records, 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 in Dubai."