Former secretary of the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Anup K Pujari, who was recently chargesheeted by the CBI in the INX Media case, has resigned from his current job as chairman, Karnataka Skill Development Authority.
Pujari has said that he has learnt through the media that he has been chargesheeted by the CBI in the case and thus his continuation in the post would not be “in conformity with the best traditions of the civil services” and that it may “cause undue embarrassment to the government”.
Pujari has addressed his resignation letter to Secretary, Department of Skill Development and Enterpreneurship and Livelihood of the Karnataka Government. He had retired from the services in January 2016, following which he took up an assignment to teach at Harvard. On his return, he was appointed by the Karnataka government as Chairman of the Skill Development Authority.
Pujari is among six bureaucrats, including former NITI Aayog CEO Sindhushree Khullar, who have been booked by the CBI in connection with the INX case. All of them were then posted in the Ministry of Finance under P Chidambaram, who, along with his son Karti, is being prosecuted by the CBI in the case.
According to the CBI chargesheet, Pujari was among the bureaucrats who processed the application of INX Media for foreign direct investment of over Rs 350 crore and downstream investment of its funding into INX News despite “glaring irregularities”.
The CBI chargesheet mentions Pujari as accused number A-11 and says that his statement was recorded by the agency on November 6, 2017.
According to the chargesheet, when the proposal for FDI inflow into INX media was put up before the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) in its 98th meeting held on May 18, 2007, the amount of inflow was mentioned as Rs 4.62 crore. But after the approval, the company brought in more than Rs 350 crore. It further made a downstream investment of 26% in INX News. The 98th meeting, whose minutes were prepared by Pujari along with other bureaucrats and approved by Chidambaram, had held that a separate approval was required for downstream investment in INX News.
When a flag was raised on this by the Income Tax department and a communication was sent to the Finance Ministry by CBDT member Sunita Kaila, the ministry decided to send a DO letter to her explaining the whole affair.
According to the chargesheet, Pujari “put up a note dated 29.08.2008 to Smt. Sindhushree Khullar justifying therein the excess FDI received by M/s. INX Media to be within the approved percentage and also opined as long as the inflow is within the percentage approved, there is no violation, nor any fresh FIPB permission is required. On this note of Sh. Anup Pujari, Ms. Sindhushree Khullar instructed to add the approval letter dated 31.05.2007 already sent to the company. Accordingly, a letter dated 02.09.2008 was sent to Ms. Sunita Kaila, Member CBDT,” the chargesheet has said.
It also alleged that in the 128th meeting of the FIPB, Pujari and other bureaucrats held back information that INX Media had made an unauthorised downstream investment.