CBI seeks sanction to investigate union agriculture and power secretaries

Updated on Jan 31, 2022 03:21 PM IST

The matter is related to the CBI’s probe into alleged irregularities in the investment of Employees’ Provident Fund of Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd (UPPCL) in the scam-hit Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Ltd (DHFL)

The CBI’s request to investigate the IAS officers has nothing to do with their current tenures. (File Photo)
The CBI’s request to investigate the IAS officers has nothing to do with their current tenures. (File Photo)
ByNeeraj Chauhan

NEW DELHI: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has sought sanction to investigate senior IAS officers including Union agriculture secretary Sanjay Agarwal, power secretary Alok Kumar and Aparna U, currently posted as mission director, National Health Mission in Uttar Pradesh, in connection with its probe into alleged irregularities in the investment of Employees’ Provident Fund of Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd (UPPCL) in the scam-hit Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Ltd (DHFL), people familiar with the development said.

The CBI’s request to investigate the three IAS officers has nothing to do with their current tenures.

The people cited above said the sanction against Agarwal, who was at the forefront of the government’s move to implement three farm laws (now repealed), Kumar and Aparna was sought in December 2021 from the UP government as the case pertains to alleged irregularities in the state.

Section 17A was brought in by the government through an amendment in July 2018 to bring additional layer of due diligence after several bureaucrats complained that they were not able to take bona fide decisions due to the fear of probe agencies. It makes it mandatory for a police officer to seek previous approval for conducting any “enquiry” or “inquiry” or “investigation” into any corruption-related offence.

One of the officers cited above said the CBI approached the UP government in December 2021 seeking permission to investigate Agarwal, Kumar and Aparna apart from a few other state government officials.

Last year, the Centre formed the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for seeking prior permission to investigate public servants under 17A, saying that the anti-graft probe officers must first verify whether a prima facie (at first sight) offence is made out against a public servant and only then make a request for a formal probe.

Between 2017 and 2019, Uttar Pradesh Power Sector Employees Trust, formed in 2006 to handle the state-run power company’s provident fund contributions, invested 4,122.5 crore in multiple short-term fixed deposits of the scam-hit Dewan Housing Finance Ltd (DHFL), run by jailed brothers – Dheeraj and Kapil Wadhawan. Of this amount, only 1,854.3 crore could be recovered from the company.

The Yogi Adityananth- government handed over the probe to the CBI in November 2019. The central agency filed a First Information Report (FIR) in the matter in June 2020.

Sanjay Agarwal, a 1984-batch IAS officer, was the chairman of UPPCL as well as the Uttar Pradesh Power Sector Employees Trust between 2013 and May 2017. He is learnt to have signed on the decision to invest the PF money of the trust in the debt-ridden DHFL.

Kumar, a 1988-batch IAS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre, was Chairman of UPPCL from May 2017 till 2019. Aparna was managing director in the department during this period.

It is alleged that the officials of UPPCL conspired to get the provident funds deposited in the schemes of DHFL circumventing the rules which did not encourage such investments.

DHFL is already facing multiple probes by various agencies including the CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED) for siphoning off billions of public funds.

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