It was a conversation between Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami and Matang Sinh, an accused in the Saradha scam and a former Union Minister, recorded by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) at the time of the latter’s arrest in Kolkata last Saturday, that is said to have sealed Goswami’s fate.
Goswami, who was sacked today — four months before his tenure was due to end in June — will be replaced by L C Goyal, a Kerala cadre IAS officer of the 1979 batch.
According to the order issued late tonight, Goswami “opted for voluntary retirement following which his notice period was waived off.”
Sources told The Indian Express that a CD of the recorded conversation was later produced by CBI director Anil Sinha before Home Minister Rajnath Singh and senior officials in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
Sources said that when CBI officials went to arrest Matang Sinh, he resisted arrest and flaunted his “high-level contacts.” Subsequently, the CBI let him use the agency’s phone and when he called up Goswami on it, that conversation was recorded.
Sources indicated that this conversation indicated alleged abuse of power to interfere in a CBI investigation.
Goswami’s removal is the second such case in a week when the government sacked an officer with a fixed tenure. Former Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh’s tenure was curtailed last week — six months early.
Goswami, a 1977 batch IAS officer of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) cadre, was appointed in 2013 by the UPA when Sushil Kumar Shinde was Home Minister. He had served as principal secretary to Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad.
His successor, Goyal, was posted as Secretary, Rural Development, and has earlier served in the Home Ministry where he handled the internal security division.
Goswami’s removal came after he was summoned by the Home Minister today to explain the conversation with Matang Sinh. That meeting lasted about an hour. He was also called by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) later in the day. Singh is reported to have briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue and also met CBI chief Anil Sinha.
“After meeting the two officers, Singh briefed the PM and gave him a factual position of the case. The Home Secretary gave his side of the story. Later, the minister met the CBI chief and asked for the agency’s stand on the issue. The decision to remove Goswami was taken by the PMO and the minister was taken into confidence,” said a senior Home Ministry official.
Goswami declined to comment. Sinh, who was named by the main accused Sudipta Sen in a letter to CBI last year, was arrested by the CBI in Kolkata.
At Goswami’s son’s wedding last year in Delhi, Sinh was a prominent guest. Home ministry sources said an enquiry could be ordered on whether Sinh played a role in key appointments in the paramilitary forces.
Goswami was at loggerheads with former CBI chief Ranjit Sinha over the appointment of R K Pachnanda, a 1983 batch IPS officer of West Bengal cadre to the agency. While Goswami rooted for Pachnanda, Sinha batted for TN cadre officer Archana Ramasundaram for the appointment to the post of additional director in CBI. Ramasundaram is yet to be given any work while Pachnanda was posted to CISF as ADG two months ago.
Former Uttarakhand Governor Aziz Qureshi moved Supreme Court and named Goswami in his petition that the latter called him and asked him to resign.