Aircel-Maxis: Who is Controversial ED Officer Rajeshwar Singh?

SC allowed government to probe charges against Rajeshwar Singh, who has been investigating the Aircel-Maxis case.

3 min read
Aircel-Maxis: Who is Controversial ED Officer Rajeshwar Singh?

In 2011, 50 almost identical complaints were filed before different ministries and government bodies against one Enforcement Directorate (ED) official, reported The Times of India.

The official in question – Rajeshwar Singh – was investigating the high-profile 2G spectrum allocation case. He was only on deputation with the ED then.

From the Rashtrapati Bhavan to the Prime Minister's Office to different ministries including defence and law received complaints to probe Singh's conduct. One such complaint was forwarded to the finance ministry (under whom the ED operates) which said that the complaints were found to be "substantial", so it sought the ED's comments on it.

Seven years on, the high-profile ED official is back in news.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday, 27 June, allowed the government to probe allegations against Singh pertaining to amassing assets disproportionate to the source of income.

The High Profile Cases Handled by Singh

A Provisional Police Service officer (PPS) of the Uttar Pradesh cadre, Singh joined the ED in 2009, on deputation. It was in 2015, almost six years later, that he was absorbed as a part of the investigating agency.

Ever since he began his innings in the ED, he has handled important cases including the highly sensitive 2G spectrum allocation scam and cases arising out of it including the Aircel-Maxis deal. He has also handled the Commonwealth Games scam and the irregularities in coal allocation, which rocked the UPA during their second term in office.

‘You Are Simply an Officer’

A vacation bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Sanjay Kishan Kaul on 27 June said that allegations of disproportionate assets levelled against Singh were serious and needed to be looked into. The plea was filed by Rajneesh Kapur, who claims to be an investigative journalist.

Additional Solicitor General Vikramjit Banerjee, appearing for the Centre, told the court that the government was willing to investigate the allegations. He also handed over a communication in a sealed cover to the bench.

The bench, after perusing the documents placed before it in a sealed cover, said sensitive issues were involved in the matter.

"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 Singh.

There has been no movement on the complaints filed against Singh in 2011. Singh offered to resign after the complaints initially surfaced, but stayed on, and over the years was given protection in his position from the Supreme Court after MP Subramaniam Swamy filed petitions asking for the same. In November 2017, the Supreme Court passed an interim order protecting him against investigation, which was lifted on 27 June 2018 after the court received the secret information from the Centre.

Singh moved the Supreme Court in May 2011 against Sahara Group Chief Subrata Roy, journalists Upendra Rai and Subodh Jain. While Roy was accused of sending a questionnaire of personal nature, questioning Singh's integrity, Rai and Jain were accused of filing the so-called identical complaints with various government departments. He argued that these amounted to contempt of court, since the Supreme Court was monitoring the investigation, and certain dealings of the Sahara group were being probed under the investigation.

The apex court admitted the case as maintainable in 2013, and issued notice to them, asking them to show cause as to why there should be no action taken against them. Sahara India News Network and its sister concerns were temporarily barred from publishing and broadcasting any story or programme relating to Singh. The contempt cases remain pending, nearly 5 years since then.

While the Sahara Group reportedly terminated Subodh Jain's services, he continued to lodge complaints against Singh with different government departments. The complaints allege that Singh resorts to corporate blackmail and has property not proportionate to his income. These issues have been raised in the current PIL before the court filed by Rajneesh Kapur as well.

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