Rajnish Rai, Gujarat cadre 1992-batch IPS officer, who had probed the 2005 Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter, was charge-sheeted by the Union Home Ministry but got a reprieve from a Hyderabad bench of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) on Monday which stayed the inquiry against him for probing alleged “misconduct by CMD and functional director, Uranium Corporation of India Ltd (UCIL), Jaduguda, in Jharkhand without permission.”
Rai is currently on central deputation in Chittoor with the CRPF. During his stint as Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) in 2015 with UCIL, Rai is reported to have unearthed large scale corruption, allegedly running into crores. Rai is known for arresting about a dozen police officers including ex-IPS officer D G Vanzara among others in 2007 during Sohrabuddin encounter probe. He was then posted in Gujarat CID (crime). Vanzara and scores of other Gujarat police officers were released in 2016-17.
In 2014, Rai was transferred to Jaduguda as CVO on Central deputation. After a legal battle in 2015, the Central government transferred him to Shillong as IG, North Sector,Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). In June this year, Rai was transferred to Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh at the Counter Insurgency and Anti Terrorism (CIAT) School of the CRPF.
Before he was shunted to Chittoor, Rai, as The Indian Express had first reported, had alleged that two operatives of NDFB(S) in Chirang, Assam, were killed in a fake encounter by Army, Assam Police, Sashastra Seema Bal and CRPF in Chirang district of Assam on March 30 this year. Later, the Home Ministry set up a probe panel headed by retired DG Ashok Prasad to probe the allegations. The panel is yet to finalise its report.
As CVO, Rai is said to have submitted his findings from UCIL to CBI, Ranchi, for which he was chargesheeted in August this year by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). When contacted by The Indian Express, Rai declined to comment saying the matter was in court.
According to the Home Ministry, Rai was chargesheeted for holding the inquiry “without due approval of the competent authority and submitted his investigation reports directly to CBI, Ranchi without consulting CVC/DAE in violation of CVC guidelines…”
The chargesheet says that Rai investigated into allegations of “irregularities and corruption in award of work,” and recruitment of a management trainee. The chargesheet alleges that Rai proceeded on tour “despite denial of approval of competent authority i.e. CMD, UCIL,” and that after the tour, he failed to submit his inspection report ignoring CVC guidelines.
The other charge relates to taking away confidential papers while relinquishing of charge as CVO. He moved before the CAT challenging the chargesheet where he alleged that the “chargesheet (was) merely to obstruct his promotion.”
Rai is scheduled for promotion. His two batchmates S G Bhati and K L N Rao in Gujarat were promoted to additional Director General of Police last week.
The Hyderabad bench, while staying the inquiry, posted the hearing to November 15. The order states, “Having gone through the submissions on either side, it is seen that the charges relate to investigation conducted by the applicant without approval of the competent authority way back in the year 2015 as well as other trivial matters.”
Counsel for the Union Government objected to the CAT passing any interim order, saying: “The applicant did not even offer his explanation for the charge memo.” The bench noted that “taking into consideration the fact that the juniors of the applicant have been promoted and also keeping in view the fact that the charges do not relate to the integrity of the applicant, we direct that there shall be stay of enquiry for a period of six weeks.”
Home Ministry officials said the action against Rai was initiated following a complaint from Department of Atomic Energy where Rai was on deputation. He has been charged under various counts under All India Services Rules primary among them was flouting CVC guidelines during his role as CVO.