The chief investigating officer in the Nirav Modi case on Friday was relieved of his duties by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in Mumbai, but was reinstated within hours by the ED headquarters in Delhi, stoking a major controversy.
An order by ED Special Director Vineet Agarwal divested Joint Director Satyabrata Kumar of responsibilities in the case on a day that Nirav Modi – the key accused in the Rs 13,500 crore PNB scam – was produced before the Westminster Court in London for arguments on the extradition request against him.
Kumar was in the London court when Agarwal’s order was issued.
However, as the news leaked to the media and started making headlines, the headquarters in Delhi overturned the order, and later issued a statement on Twitter saying that media reports about Kumar being removed from the case were “not correct and denied”.
The order removing Kumar from the case has been perused by The Indian Express. It says that Kumar is being removed from the post as he had completed his five-year tenure with the agency, and no extension had been granted to him. The order further states that Kumar was being retained in the ED merely because he was supervising coal blocks allocation cases, where the Supreme Court has said that no officer can be transferred without its orders.
The order signed by Agarwal says, “It is hereby informed that Shri Satyabrata Kumar, Joint Director shall continue to supervise the investigation of coal block case in MBZO-1 and all other files shall be directly marked from the concerned officers to Additional Director (WR) who shall look after the charge of MBZO-1 until further orders from H.O.”
It was overturned by ED Director Sanjay Kumar Mishra, who restored the charge to Kumar. Sources said the cancellation of this order will be followed by an approval for the extension of his tenure, which has already been sent for clearance to the Department of Revenue under the Union Finance Ministry and the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).