The Chhattisgarh Police SIT probing the alleged PDS scam under the previous BJP government has registered a case against former EOW and ACB head and DG-rank IPS officer Mukesh Gupta and SP Rajnesh Singh on charges of falsifying documents, criminal conspiracy and illegal phone tapping.
However, DSP R K Dubey, who the complaint refers to as having named Gupta and Singh as seniors who made him falsify documents, approached the special court set up for the case in Raipur and alleged that he was being made to write statements implicating Gupta and Singh under duress, and that his life was under threat.
A similar petition to Chhattisgarh High Court was dismissed by Justice Goutam Bhaduri, who said the court could not intervene at the moment, but added that it was “expected that the State will not pressurise any citizen to give a statement a particular way”.
Allegations of kickbacks in rice distributed under the PDS system had emerged in 2015. In subsequent investigation, there were reports of the recovery of a diary which seemed to contain names such as “CM madam”. In the course of the investigation, then conducted by Gupta as ADG of the EOW and ACB, two senior IAS officers were among several officials chargesheeted.
The Congress, however, had alleged that the investigation was not taken to its logical conclusion and there was no focus on political involvement. As Opposition leader, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel had accused Gupta of protecting the BJP. In January, the new Chhattisgarh government set up an SIT and handed over the investigation to the newly appointed IG of ACB and EOW, S R P Kalluri, who has been accused of human rights excesses in Bastar in the past.
On Thursday night, based on the complaint by a EOW official, a case was registered against Gupta and Rajnesh Singh under the sections of 166 (public servant disobeying law), 167(public servant framing an incorrect document), 193 (false evidence), 201(disappearance of evidence), 466 (forgery of record of court), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and sections 25 and 26 of the Indian Telegraph Act. The complaint says that evidence of tampering with government records was found during investigation, and upon enquiry, Dubey, then inspector of the EOW, gave a written clarification that the conspiracy was hatched because of the pressure of Gupta and Singh. The complaint says it was found that the officers “threatened” subordinates with filing of false cases, and that entries into government documents were made on back dates to legitimise illegal phone tapping.
In a dramatic twist, Dubey has in an affidavit to the special court alleged that he needs protection from the “pressure tactics” of the SIT, and that his statements were written under threat. In a petition to the High Court too, he has said he needed protection from the course of questioning, and from the SIT.
In his affidavit to the special court, Dubey said he was called by members of the SIT, including Kalluri and SP I K Elsela, while a retired prosecution officer N N Chaturvedi and a lawyer were present in the room. He alleged that he was told that he would be framed in the case, and asked to write a statement implicating Gupta and Singh.
Contacted by The Indian Express, Gupta said, “All telephone interceptions were lawful and with the approval of the home department. The SIT has deliberately ignored the records and the FIR has been hurriedly taken on the basis of oral statements of subordinate officers under duress. Moreover, principles of natural justice required that I was given an opportunity to clarify any queries. I am denying all these charges.”
Congress leader Kiranmayee Nayak said it was now clear that the BJP government used “illegal methods” like phone tapping to “quell opposition and dissent”.