iconimg Tuesday, July 07, 2015

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, March 22, 2014
Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde courted controversy on Friday as he met 2G scam accused Shahid Balwa in his North Block office. The meeting came just two months after former home secretary RK Singh, now a BJP Lok Sabha candidate, alleged Shinde had intervened to save the businessman from questioning in a Delhi police case. Denying the charge, the home minister had then said, “RK Singh is now a political man. His allegations are political in nature.”

Adding to the confusion, both gave different reasons for the meeting. Balwa, a promoter of the DB Realty group, said he had met Shinde in connection with a “delayed response from the home ministry to an RTI application” filed by him. An evasive Shinde, on the other hand, said, “I told him if there is any inquiry against him, I cannot intervene. I also told him to come back after March 29 as I am leaving for my constituency (in Maharashtra) today.”

The responses left even ministry officials guessing the real purpose of the meeting as Shinde is not an appellate authority for fast-tracking RTI requests. Also, in the event of authorities not responding to RTI queries, the appeal is filed before the Central Information Commission.

“I can’t understand why the home minister gave Balwa time to meet, especially in the light of RK Singh’s allegations,” said a ministry official.

Singh said the meeting confirmed what he’d said earlier.

In January, the former home secretary had accused Shinde of instructing the Delhi Police not to question a businessman considered close to underworld don Dawood Ibrahim in the IPL spot-fixing case.

Former Delhi police commissioner Neeraj Kumar, who helmed the IPL probe, has maintained a stony silence on the issue. But sources once associated with the probe say Shinde never intervened on behalf of Balwa in any probe.

“In fact, Balwa was not under the scanner in the IPL case and Shinde never intervened on his behalf. Maybe RK Singh was referring to someone else,” a former investigator said.

But Singh told HT, “I was given to understand that Shinde intervened for Balwa only.”