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Raipur: Former Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh’s director of publicity Rajesh Toppo heads a list of officers who face the possibility of being charge-sheeted by the Economic Offences Wing, chief minister Bhupesh Baghel recently informed the assembly.
Various departments of the Baghel government have given sanction to prosecute these officers after initial investigations found substance in charges against them. They will be suspended automatically once the charge-sheet is filed.
EOW records reveal that permissions against these officers have come over a period of two years but most have so far escaped being charge-sheeted. Toppo, an IAS officer of the 2005 batch and another retired Forest Service officer, A.H. Kapasi, are the only All India Services officers on the list.
“The state has sanctioned and forwarded their case to the DoPT which has the final authority to sanction prosecution in such cases,” says Arif Hussain, Deputy Inspector General of Police, who heads the EOW.
Apart from them, charge-sheets have been presented in court against several controversial state service officers ranging from Ashok Chaturvedi to Samundar Singh of the Excise department. Singh was believed to be close to the previous regime.
The list also includes the names of several zila parishad CEOs and a key conspirator in the ADG Mukesh Gupta case. Subedar in the EOW Rekha Nayar who worked as personal secretary to Gupta was for long under investigation in allegations involving Gupta.
Most of the investigations in these cases was done by former head of the EOW G.P. Singh who is himself now accused of corruption and sedition. He has not yet surrendered or presented himself for interrogation. Like Singh, Gupta also once headed the EOW. Both are under suspension and face multiple charges ranging from extortion to sedition.
Rajesh Toppo, considered a competent officer was trapped by two journalists on the eve of the state assembly elections mouthing conspiracies against the then state Congress president Baghel. The EOW has been pursuing Toppo’s case in the DoPT and the Election Commission.
Toppo is charged with three offences including two by the EOW. One of them relates to release of Rs 25 crore to a company for advertisements after the Model Code of Conduct came into force. It is likely that Baghel is attempting to make an example of Toppo to impress the idea that his government is against corruption.
One of the major drawbacks that the EOW faces today is that all sanctions for search and seizure and subsequent prosecution has to come from the department concerned. If a minister is not inclined to give permission then prosecuting an officer is nearly impossible.
This is reflected in the case of nine irrigation department officials who were investigated for a possible fraud and muster roll manipulation in Kanker. The department first gave permission to prosecute them and has now withdrawn it.