Aircel case: SC allows govt to probe against ED officer

Aircel case: SC allows govt to probe against ED officer

The Supreme Court, DH file photo

The Supreme Court on Wednesday gave the government free hand to launch any investigation against an Enforcement Directorate officer, who is probing the Aircel-Maxis case.

A vacation bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Sanjay Kishan Kaul orally observed the charges against the ED's joint director Rajeshwar Singh were very serious and could have impact on the national security.

The court said the person investigating the case should not be “under cloud”. It modified the previous order, granting blanket protection to the officer from investigation or probe by any government agency.

“The government is free to look into the charges, despite an interim order,” the bench ordered.

The court also noted since a charge sheet has already been filed in the Aircel Maxis, it was open for the government to decide if he (Singh) can be assigned any further role in it.

“It is not anybody's case that the government wanted to thwart fair probe...the government has assured that how so ever the high and the mighty, the accused may be, the case would be taken to its logical conclusion,” the bench said in its order. The court had earlier given the ED six months time, expiring on September 12, to complete its probe, while observing some invisible hands were impeding it.

Additional Solicitor General Vikramjit Banerjee furnished a sealed envelop, purportedly containing allegations against Singh. He said the government is doing investigation but the apex court's earlier order in 2011 granting him blanket protection came in its way.

After going through the report, the bench told the officer, “You can't be given blanket clean chit. You or any other officer are accountable. We can't divulge the information it (envelop) contained. It is not only highly sensitive but it involved the nation's security. We can't shut our eyes.”

A counsel, representing PIL petitioner Rajneesh Kapur, contended that the officer, who was deputy superintendent of police in Uttar Pradesh, had an “apalling records of 23 encounters” and he operated with impunity.

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, for his part, defended the officer, contending the investigation in the Aircel-Maxis case, should not be impeded by any whisper of allegations. Senior advocate R S Suri, representing the officer, submitted that the bench may interact with him in camera to clear his any doubt.

The bench, however, said, “Let there be fair investigation. We never thought that things are so startling. We don't want to make further comments.”