In fresh twist in the Bhola drug racket case, the key Enforcement Directorate (ED) officer probing money-laundering allegations, Niranjan Singh, who was transferred in January from Jalandhar to Kolkata, opposed his transfer orders before the high court on Monday.
During the resumed hearing, senior advocate Anupam Gupta appeared on behalf of Niranjan and pleaded to become party in the case, opposing the ED's move to transfer him. Niranjan is yet to formally move an application about the same.
As the hearing began, assistant solicitor general, central government, Chetan Mittal, who appeared on behalf of the ED, told the court that two officers had been transferred to Jalandhar as Niranjan's replacement. As he argued that on the HC's intervention, two replacements had been made and the case was nearing completion.
Gupta termed the submissions by the Union government a 'patent lie' and told the court that the ED and the Punjab government be asked to file a status report on the probe so far. Niranjan also raised questions over the replacements made by the ED. Both officers transferred had not handled money-laundering cases in the past. One of the officers, Rajiv Kumar, was promoted as assistant director three months ago and Ajay Singh merely 10 days ahead of his transfer to Jalandhar, whereas Niranjan had been working for more than four years, Gupta told the HC.
Rajiv Kumar has been transferred from the ED's Srinagar office and Ajay Singh from the Delhi headquarters as the HC had asked the ED to name two officers as Niranjan's replacements in March.
Even as Mittal argued that Niranjan was needed at Kolkata to investigate a case, the HC stated in the open court that it would decide after sealed cover status reports and adjourned the hearing for April 20. The stay on the transfer would continue till that date.
The HC had stayed the transfer of Niranjan Singh, an assistant director at the ED's Jalandhar office following an application from a lawyers' group challenging the ED's decision to move him to the Kolkata office in January. The transfer had resulted in a hue and cry from the media and other quarters as the Niranjan-led team had summoned a number of politicians in the drug probe, including Punjab cabinet minister Bikram Singh Majithia. The stay on the transfer would continue till further orders.
HC stays transfer of ED official probing Majithia in drug scam