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Bhopal: The Chhattisgarh high court has quashed a first information report (FIR) filed in 2019 by the state Economic Offences Wing (EOW) against Aman Singh, former principal secretary to then chief minister Raman Singh, in a disproportionate assets case. The FIR was also filed against Singh’s wife, Yasmin, who was also an officer in the state government.
While quashing the order, the high court said that the case was based on “hearsay” and “probability”, and not on real grounds. It further observed that the accused had already “suffered” for over three years and the FIR should be quashed.
The high court, however, did not make adverse remarks against Uchit Sharma, on whose complaint the EOW had registered the FIR. Uchit Sharma, as per PTI, is a Raipur-based RTI activist.
The cases were filed against them under sections 13(1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) and section 120B of the Indian Penal Code (punishment of criminal conspiracy). But the EOW investigations failed to produce anything substantial which would make for a disproportionate property case.
The court also noted that the EOW had started a preliminary enquiry against Singh without obtaining permission from the state government, because the chief minister had directed the case to be handed over to the EOW. However, a formal permission under section 17A of the PCA – which states that “previous approval is required in relation to enquiry, inquiry or investigation into any offence allegedly committed by a public servant” – was not obtained. The General Administration Department (GAD) is obliged to issue formal permission for the prosecution of officers in such cases.
The high court’s decision has also brought Chhattisgarh’s EOW into the limelight again for all the wrong reasons. Two IPS officers of the EOW, Mukesh Gupta and G.P. Singh, were on the run before the Supreme Court granted them bail.
G.P. Singh and Gupta, who are former heads of the EOW, are now accused of corruption, sedition, extortion amongst other things.
A third officer, namely, S.R.P. Kalluri, who allegedly conducted the shoddy investigations against Raman Singh and Gupta on the directions of the Baghel government, has now been recommended by the same government for early punitive retirement.
The state has recommended early punitive retirement for all three of them on grounds of corruption and extortion.
The cases of G.P. Singh and Kalluri are particularly glaring since they were appointed to the post by Baghel himself, who had complete knowledge of their backgrounds. As Pradesh Congress Committee president and opposition leader, he had campaigned against the high-handedness of the EOW and how it was being used as a “weapon” in the same way the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation are accused of being used by the Union government to target the opposition.
This raises serious questions regarding the EOW’s working in the state.
Nothing has come of any investigations so far against any of the officers. Kalluri investigated Gupta; G.P. Singh investigated Kalluri, Gupta and Aman Singh. The present incumbent Arif Sheikh is investigating all four.