The Supreme Court of India
The Supreme Court of India | Manisha Mondal/ThePrint
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Says government should examine “continued role” of the officer, but observes no 2G investigator should be “under a cloud”.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Wednesday refrained from taking action on a report filed by the finance ministry seeking to probe a senior Enforcement Directorate (ED) officer who is the primary investigation officer of the Aircel-Maxis deal, part of the cases under the 2G scam.

“It is up to the Centre to examine the continued role of Enforcement Directorate officer Rajeshwar Singh,” a vacation bench of Justices Arun Mishra and S.K. Kaul ruled in a brief order passed hours after hearing the case.

The order came on the heels of the report filed by the finance ministry seeking to investigate Singh — the senior ED officer investigating the Aircel-Maxis deal.

The government does not intend to protect anyone high or powerful, the bench said echoing submissions made by the Centre. The Aircel-Maxis case must come to its logical conclusion within the appropriate time period as laid down in a 12 March order, the court said.

The court also noted that it was aware a secretary in the cabinet had prepared the report, but refrained from commenting on the correctness of the communication.

No 2G officer should be “under any cloud of suspicion”

The vacation bench had, however, earlier observed that the allegations against Rajeshwar Singh were serious and needed to be looked into.  The apex court made its observation on the grounds that no officer investigating the “highly-sensitive” 2G scam must come “under any cloud of suspicion”.

Singh has been accused by Rajneesh Kapur, an investigative journalist who has filed a petition in the apex court, of amassing wealth disproportionate to his income.

Additional solicitor general (ASG) Vikramjit Banerjee, appearing for the Centre, said the government was willing to investigate the claims and handed over a communication in a sealed cover to the bench.

After examining the contents of the sealed envelope, the vacation bench of Justices Arun Mishra and S.K. Kaul said, “As a matter of fact, when there are allegations, whether right or wrong against you (Singh) it has to be looked into,” adding that “the things which have come before us are startling”.

“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 said.

‘Highly sensitive matter’

The vacation bench further observed that the contents of the finance ministry report could not be divulged at this point considering the seriousness of the issue.

“The report is highly sensitive and national security is involved,” Justice Arun Mishra said. “This is not meant for everybody and we cannot shut our eyes to the seriousness of this issue,” he added. “Let’s be alive to our own responsibility,” he said.

The report was filed on the heels of the petition filed by Rajneesh Kapur, the investigative journalist.

Singh, however, has filed a contempt petition against Kapur, saying he was part of efforts to delay the investigation into the Aircel-Maxis case.

Senior advocate R.S. Suri, representing Singh, objected to the averments made in Kapur’s petition and urged the court to call the officer in camera and look into the matter.

“This is a court-monitored issue and he (Singh) is duty bound to seek protection from court. You can call him in camera and ask him what the issue is,” Suri added.

Referring to the allegations made by Kapur, Suri said the information produced in the petition was allegedly sourced from material online or through RTI. “But no such material exists,” Suri said.

To this, Justice Mishra said, “Something is very serious. Everything has to be considered based on this report.”

 

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