Trouble seems to be brewing again for chief minister Virbhadra Singh's principle private secretary Subhash Ahluwalia as the enforcement directorate (ED) has issued notices to him under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).
Ahluwalia has been asked to appear in person at the enforcement directorate sub-zonal office in Shimla on April 22. He has been asked to explain the alleged violation of the act. Suspecting that money could have been routed into foreign countries through hawala, the enforcement directorate had opened investigations against Ahluwalia, who is the most trusted aide of the chief minister.
The ED had also asked details from Ahluwalia about any foreign remittances received by him from his children, who are working in the United States. The investigation had also raised a question on state's anti-corruption and vigilance bureau (VB), which had arrested Ahluwalia after registering a case of disproportionate assets against him during the Bharatiya Janata Party regime. What further raises hackle is that the officer, who had recommended chargesheet against Ahluwalia and his wife Meera Ahulwaia, on Congress party's return to power, had filed the closure report.
The VB in its report had told the court that the case was being closed as the central government did not sanction prosecution against Ahluwalia. The case against him was registered under Section 13(1), 13(2) of Prevention of Corruption Act. Similarly, in a case related to disproportionate assets of Meera, maintained that in the earlier probe an amount of Rs 6 crore had been miscalculated. The VB had given 21 reasons in the 19 page closure report. While reinvestigation the case, the VB rose questions about competency and efficiency of its own officers, who had investigated the case. Meera, who is working in the education department, is currently the principal at Rajkiya Kanya Mahavidyala, Shimla.
After taking over reins in December 2012, Virbhadra had appointed Ahluwalia- a retired IAS- as advisor (media), but few months later he was appointed as principal private secretary to the chief minister. Ahluwalia, who remained private secretary to chief minister in 2003, was removed from the post in 2007 and appointed as managing director of Himachal Pradesh Tourism Corporation during the BJP regime, on charges of having disproportionate assets.
The IAS officer was suspended and arrested by the state Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau, but later he posted as Kangra divisional commissioner. He was again shifted to the less important post as MD of a Solan-based PSU. The ED notices could add ammunition to the Opposition's arsenal that had launched a counteroffensive against the state government.