ED Officer Apologises to Finance Secy for Accusing Him of 'Siding With Scamsters'

In a letter which he has now "withdrawn", Rajeshwar Singh, who was probing the 2G scam, had accused Hasmukh Adhia of "continued onslaught and persistent vilification ... for doing my job".

New Delhi: Enforcement Directorate joint director Rajeshwar Singh – who probed the 2G scam and is part of other sensitive investigations – has apologised to Union finance secretary Hasmukh Adhia in writing and asked that a letter in which he accused Adhia of developing animosity against him and “siding with scamsters and their affiliates” be treated as “withdrawn”.

Singh’s apology and withdrawal of charges, which he says he made “as he lost his temper”, come in the wake of the Ministry of Finance issuing a chargesheet against him for insubordination and contemplating strict disciplinary action, including dismissal from service.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had also asked the Revenue Department to investigate allegations of corruption against Singh and alleged disproportionate assets held by the joint director and his brother Rameshwar Singh, who is posted in a key position in the Income Tax Department in Surat.

The PMO ordered the investigation after receiving a complaint with details of alleged corruption and “benami” properties from one Anil Galgali on April 10, 2018.

Rajeshwar’s letter, which emerged in the course of a Supreme Court hearing, revealed the battle going on between investigative agencies at the Centre, as it seemed that the Central Bureau of Investigation and the ED had been split into factions led by senior officials and were gunning for each other. The ugly war has seen several high profile cases being compromised.

In his original letter dated June 11, 2018, sent through ED director Karnal Singh, Rajeshwar Singh had said that in the last 20 years, all his appraisal reports, written by more than 50 senior IAS, IPS and IRS officers, have uniformly rated his performance as “outstanding”.

“Why do you disregard their opinion? Is it possible for me to have managed all of them over a period of time,” he wrote.

Singh, who was a UP police officer, had joined the ED on deputation. His letter became public after the Supreme Court, which had given Singh protection from any action against him in the past, modified its orders in response to a request from the government.

The Supreme Court said that the Centre was free to look into the “serious” charges against Rajeshwar Singh.

“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 of Justices Arun Mishra and S.K. Kaul had told the officer.

In his original letter to Adhia, Singh had said, “It pained 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 may years in public service, you believe that so many judges can be manipulated and that too over such a long period of time.”

Singh told Adhia that he had sought a personal meeting to explain his side, but this was not granted. He said former finance minister P. Chidambaram “sported an open and direct grudge against him” because of the 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 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,” he said.

Singh said the attorney general had requested the Supreme Court to provide protection to him, as the AG was convinced that he was being “hounded”. But “you (Adhia) do not seem to agree”, the letter continued. He said his promotion to the additional director, ED grade has been due since April 1, 2017, and is being processed in the finance ministry. But it has been more than seven months and there has been “absolutely” no progress, Singh said.

“I am astutely aware that this is being done to not just humiliate me but also to ensure that the investigation in certain crucial cases I handle, ought to derail. May I beg to ask if you are compromising on larger aspects of our national interest to set scores on an ego trip that is absolutely uncontested.”

The Ministry of Finance is still to take note of Singh’s apology. Sources say that it is unlikely to affect the case against him.

Swati Chaturvedi is a Delhi-based journalist.