Niranjan Singh, a deputy director of the Enforcement Directorate, resigned citing “personal reasons”.
Chandigarh: Senior Enforcement Directorate (ED) officer Niranjan Singh, who was supervising the investigations into high-profile drug haul cases in Punjab, resigned Friday, citing “personal reasons”.
Singh, a deputy director of the ED, had questioned powerful Akali Dal leader Bikram Singh Majithia in December 2014 in connection with one of these cases.
Posted in Jalandhar, Singh sent his resignation to the ED chief in New Delhi Friday afternoon. He was due to retire in 2021.
As assistant director, Singh had taken up the investigation into the multi-crore international drug racket busted by the Punjab police in 2013. During the probe, he questioned the then revenue minister Majithia in December 2014.
Jagdish Singh alias Bhola, one of the kingpins of the international drug rackets, had named Majithia in the case. Majithia is the brother of union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal.
Transfer to Kolkata stayed by court
Less than a month after he questioned Majithia, Singh was transferred to Kolkata in January 2015, to investigate the Saradha chit fund case. His transfer was challenged in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which issued a stay order, asking him to continue with the investigation into the “Bhola drug cases”.
Following the stay order, Singh’s equations with senior ED officials, including those in Delhi, became strained.
Although the facts of the cases before the Punjab police and the ED were the same, Majithia was given a clean chit by the police but ED continued to probe his role.
In May 2015, Singh submitted a note on the alleged role of Majithia in the case to the high court in a sealed cover.
Six chargesheets have been filed in the drug cases being probed by the ED. Although none of these chargesheets named Majithia, the statements of the other accused continued to point finger at the former revenue minister.
Promoted to deputy director
In May 2017, Singh was promoted to the post of deputy director and made the supervisory officer of the case. The day-to-day investigation of the case was handed over to two other officers under Singh.
Sources close to the officer said the investigations into the case virtually came to an end following the ED’s move to promote Singh. No further chargesheets have been submitted in the case since.
The ongoing tussle between ED and Singh was also visible in the various hearings of the case in the high court. In November last year, a division bench of the high court asked the special task force (STF) of the Punjab police, constituted to curtail drugs, to submit its view on the findings of the ED, including the note submitted by Singh in a sealed cover.
The STF, then headed by ADGP Harpreet Singh Sidhu, submitted its report on ED’s findings in February. Although the STF’s report was kept in a sealed cover, cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu “read out” the contents of the report in a press conference in March, claiming the STF had found that Majithia had indeed facilitated the accused in the drug cases.
Majithia, however, rubbished the report as false, adding that Sidhu nursed a personal grudge against him.
The court asked the ED to submit its response to the STF report. Both Singh and ED submitted separate responses. During a hearing of the case this year, Singh told the court that the response submitted by the ED had not gone through him even though he was the supervisory officer in the case.
During another hearing in March, senior advocate Anupam Gupta, who is representing Singh, told the court that ED had “threatened” Singh if he failed to change his counsel.
ED’s counsel Ranjana Shahi handed over to the bench a letter written by Singh, asking Gupta not to represent him further. Gupta produced another letter from Singh saying the request stood withdrawn.