ED joint director Rajeshwar Singh, who is probing the Aircel-Maxis case, has been battling corruption in reel life too. In 2011, he played the lead role in Bollywood movie Kya Yahi Sach Hai, based on the book, Carnage by Angel, by former cop Y P Singh, Singh’s brother-in-law.
The film, directed by the cop-turned-lawyer, is about a disillusioned policeman battling corruption in the police force. Singh’s sister and Y P Singh’s wife Abha Singh, an IAS officer who quit the service to practise law, also acted in the movie. In the opening scene, Singh while taking parade salutes reminds the police force of “honesty, dedication to duty and discipline”.
Singh is the joint director in-charge of Lucknow Zone, but is mostly seen in the Khan Market headquarters of ED as he is also handling 2G cases. In fact, the ED in 2012-13 set up a headquarter unit making Singh the head of all high-profile and political investigations in the country.
A Provisional Police Service officer of UP cadre, Singh came on deputation to the ED in 2009 when the media dubbed him “encounter specialist”. Singh’s journey from an encounter cop to heading investigations on big white-collar crime cases had its share of controversies, which prompted the Supreme Court to give protection to him from transfer or harassment by the government.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court lifted the protection granted to Singh and said the government was free to look into allegations against him. Appearing for the Centre, ASG Vikramjit Banerjee said the government was ready to probe the charges against Singh, and handed a communication in a sealed cover to the bench. The ED responded with a press statement disclosing the details and countering the government’s assertion about the investigation.
Officials said the ED officer should not worry if he is clean. “As the court has taken cognizance of the facts, let an independent inquiry/investigation be done. If he is clear and transparent, he should not worry about these things,” a top government official said.
The PMO is also examining a complaint against Singh, alleging that he blackmailed a “corporate by issuing summons and notices and has property not proportionate to his income”.
Rajeshwar has been at loggerheads with those in power at the Finance Ministry since his promotion. His file on promotion and absorption in ED was first blocked by then Finance Minister P Chidambaram. After the NDA government came to power, Singh was promoted and absorbed in the ED on the orders of the SC. He is currently in-charge of investigation involving Chidambaram and his son Karti in the Aircel-Maxis deal case.
BJP MP Subramanian Swamy has been Singh’s supporter. On Tuesday, he said the “gang of four” at the finance ministry was trying to “intimidate” Rajeshwar to save Chidambaram. This “gang of four” is led by Gujarat-cadre IAS officer and Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia, Swamy said.
Singh’s promotion as additional director, ED, was due from April 1, 2017, but is yet to be processed by the finance ministry. Meanwhile, Singh has proceeded on leave. He had earlier sought to recuse himself from the 2G and Aircel-Maxis probe.
In a letter to Adhia earlier this month, Singh said, “It has become more than difficult for me to survive this continued onslaught and persistent vilification from all quarters for doing my job.”
Singh has been credited with attachment of assets under PMLA in high-profile cases — such as Rs 300 crore in Madhu Koda case, Rs 1,000 crore in Jagan Reddy case, Rs 750 crore in Aircel-Maxis case, Rs 223 crore in 2G case and about Rs 600 crore in a ponzi case.