Aircel-Maxis case: Govt can probe ED officer

Aircel-Maxis case: Govt can probe ED officer

The Supreme Court gave the government a free hand to launch an investigation against an ED officer who is probing the Aircel-Maxis case

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

A vacation bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Sanjay Kishan Kaul orally observed that the charges against ED's joint director Rajeshwar Singh were very serious and could have an impact on 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 by any government agency.

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

The court also noted that since a chargesheet has already been filed in the Aircel-Maxis case, 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 howsoever high and mighty the accused may be, the case would be taken to its logical conclusion," the bench said.

Additional Solicitor General Vikramjit Banerjee furnished a sealed envelope, purportedly containing allegations against Singh. He said the government is investigating but the apex court's earlier order in 2011, granting Singh 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 (the envelope) contained. It is not only highly sensitive but also involved the nation's security. We can't shut our eyes."

A counsel representing PIL petitioner Rajneesh Kapur contended that the officer, who was the deputy superintendent of police in Uttar Pradesh, had an "apalling record of 23 encounters" and 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.”