Seven months after the CBI sought sanction to prosecute an Enforcement Directorate (ED) officer from Gujarat — who is alleged to have collected “huge bribe” from bookies and hawala operators for not arresting them during the investigation into the Surat hawala racket and the IPL betting cases, which he had supervised — the Centre is yet to grant the request.
J P Singh, a ‘Group A’ IRS officer, is also alleged to have extorted money from traders in Ahmedabad and Mumbai. He was arrested by the CBI in February this year after some businessmen from Gujarat petitioned the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). The case was being investigated by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by special director Rakesh Asthana.
Sources said the agency had sought prosecution sanction in April this year, before filing a chargesheet in the case. While the CBI later filed the chargesheet without getting sanction, Singh was granted bail by the Gujarat High Court. “Seven months have already passed since sanction was sought. If we do not receive sanction, we cannot frame the charges against Singh, and others accused in the case will also benefit,” pointed out a top official.
“As Singh is an IRS officer, the Ministry of Finance has to give its clearance. But despite reminders sent by the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC), the Finance Ministry has not given sanction,” said a senior government official. The CBI did not respond to an e-mail sent by The Indian Express in this regard.
Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, states that “no court shall take cognizance of an offence punishable under Sections 7, 10, 11, 13 and 15 alleged to have been committed by a public servant, except with previous sanction”.
The CVC had set a deadline of three months for the competent authorities to take a decision on granting prosecution sanction. Singh, who was posted as joint director of ED in Ahmedabad, his then assistant director Sanjay Kumar and some other officials are alleged to have collected bribe from bookies and hawala operators in the course of their investigation.
According to the CBI, bookie Manoj Jain paid Rs 2.75 crore to two other bookies, Bimal Agarwal and Sonu Jalan, who are alleged to have acted as Singh’s “conduits”. Jain’s name had surfaced during the probe into the IPL betting case.
The CBI had said that Singh also accepted bribe in a Rs 5,000 crore money laundering case against an alleged hawala operator from Surat, Afroz Fatta. Singh was also investigating a case against the Adani group, referred to the ED by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), involving alleged overvaluation of import of equipment.
The DRI had alleged that over Rs 2,000 crore had been siphoned off. The proceedings against Adani were struck down by the adjudicating authority of the DRI recently. Singh, who was earlier with Mumbai Customs, has spent five years with the ED as joint director in charge of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.