The legality of finance ministry’s controversial move to repatriate an Enforcement Directorate (ED) officer probing the 2G spectrum allocation scam to his parent cadre during the pendency of the sensitive case will now be tested by the Delhi HC.
In an interim order, the HC has admitted a petition filed by the central government challenging the Central Administration Tribunal’s December 2013 order for absorption of the ED’s deputy director Rajeshwar Singh, who has been on deputation with the department since 2007, into its regular service. The court has refused to stay the tribunal’s order but clarified that Singh’s appointment will depend on the final outcome of the case.
Singh has been working as deputy director of ED since September 2008 and is part of the team probing the 2G money trial. He was also looking after other cases under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and Foreign Exchange Management Act. Before that, he was Deputy Superintendent in the Uttar Pradesh Police.
After his three years deputation period ended in 2011, the enforcement department has been extending Singh’s term every year to continue various ongoing investigations being handled by him.
In the same year, the central government invited applications for the post of the deputy director of ED by way of absorption and deputation. It came after the recruitment rules for the post were amended making state police officers eligible for the post. Singh submitted his application to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and in September 2012, the panel recommended Singh for absorption in the department.
The finance ministry did not contest his eligibility for the post, but refused to accept the recommendation saying it was in the process of amending the recruitment rules “to safeguard the interest of assistant directors who directly joined the organisation.”
Singh then approached the tribunal seeking direction to authorities to absorb him for the post of deputy director. Just four days before the tribunal gave its verdict, the ministry moved the SC seeking permission to repatriate Singh to his parent cadre. It was necessitated because of SC standing order not to transfer or change members of the probe team looking into the 2G scam.
The apex court is yet to hear on the application.