Singh, whose two-year extension expires this month, is monitoring many high-profile cases, including ones involving Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya.
New Delhi: Enforcement Directorate (ED) chief Karnal Singh, who is overseeing investigations into many high-profile cases, will be given yet another extension for six months, ThePrint has learnt.
Singh, a 1984 batch IPS officer of UT cadre, was to retire in August 2017. However, on the directive of the Supreme Court, he was given a two-year extension effective October 2016. Now, he has been given another six months’ extension until April 2019, although a formal order is yet to be issued by the government.
In August 2015, Singh was holding an additional charge of ED chief after the government curtailed the tenure of incumbent director Rajan S. Katoch. Singh was asked to hold the additional charge for three months initially but the term was extended twice. Finally, he was elevated to the post of the director in October 2016.
According to sources, Singh’s extension comes in the wake of the ED investigating many high-profile cases, including the PNB fraud case in which diamond merchant Nirav Modi is the accused, the case involving Vijay Mallya, Aircel Maxis case involving former finance minister P. Chidambaram and his son Karti as well as the Rs 5,000-crore money laundering case, allegedly involving Sterling Biotech promoters Nitin Sandesara and Chetan Sandesara and others.
Singh is the only IPS officer in the agency.
Sources said Singh has been personally monitoring developments in all these cases and letting him go may have adverse implications. The sources also said that Singh is known to be close to political bigwigs, which helps him get an extension each time.
Extension months before retirement
In February 2017, just six months before his retirement, Singh was given a fixed tenure of two years, effective October 2016, following a Supreme Court directive.
The government was directed to issue a notification on the appointment of Singh as ED director for two years in consonance with the provision of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) Act.
The latest extension was given despite questions raised within the government after Singh’s office released a press statement supporting their officer, Rajeshwar Singh, against the will of the Centre.
Sharma, an ED officer, is tasked with several big-ticket probes, including the Aircel-Maxis case. India’s external intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing, is believed to have briefed the government that Sharma was allegedly in touch with a Dubai-based businessman.
The government had placed a report with these details before the Supreme Court, following which a statement was issued by ED describing Rajeshwar Singh as “a responsible officer with outstanding career record”.
The statement was seen as a rebuttal for the RAW note, which created ripples within the government.