On 2 December, a special court said the case was ‘lingering on unnecessarily’ and postponed it for next year February.
New Delhi: Former CBI director Alok Verma, Enforcement Directorate (ED) Joint Director Rajeshwar Singh and Dubai-based private individual Danish Shah, who, at different stages of time, played a significant role in aiding the investigation and action against former Union minister P. Chidambaram and Karti Chidambaram for their alleged involvement in corruption, are now a forgotten chapter in the corridors of Delhi.
It was in February 2018 when Karti Chidambaram was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for his alleged involvement in an alleged criminal case. At that time, many political observers had called it an “unprecedented” step as Chidambaram was seen as an “untouchable”. The CBI director at that time was Alok Verma, who had joined the post in February 2017 and stayed there till January 2019. The arrest of Karti Chidambaram led to the subsequent arrest of his father P. Chidambaram in August 2019, something which was considered as “impossible” due to the influence wielded by P. Chidambaram among the bureaucracy.
The case is still going on, albeit it has lost the focus of the investigating agencies as was evident from a recent observation by the court which is hearing the case. On 2 December, a special court, which is hearing the case against the father-son duo, expressed its displeasure over the time that was being taken by the CBI and ED in completing the investigation in the case and stated that the case was “lingering on unnecessarily” before postponing it for next year February.
Joint Director (JD) of Enforcement Directorate (ED), Rajeshwar Singh, who was the officer investigating the case and continued to probe the case relentlessly, is now posted as JD, Lucknow zone. Once the “heat” in the case and the media interest withered away, his Central deputation was curtailed.
Singh, who is a provincial police officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre, had joined the ED in 2009. In 2012, the Supreme Court directed the Centre to make him permanent in ED since he was investigating the 2G spectrum case. However, for a long time, despite order from CAT and High Court and recommendation from UPSC, he was not absorbed into the ED until the Supreme Court stepped in.
When the Aircel-Maxis case was being heard, the Finance ministry in June 2018 had filed a sealed input generated by the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) alleging that Singh was in touch with a Dubai-based India born businessman Danish Shah who they claimed was working for Pakistan’s ISI. However, the ED, then led by Karnal Singh, had come out in open, issuing a rebuttal to the claims made by the Finance ministry and stated that Singh had spoken to Shah in 2016 regarding a case that the ED was investigating.
Shah, later, in an interview to this newspaper (I am not an ISI agent: Danish Shah) had claimed that he had helped many Indian agencies track down instances of money laundering and hawala transactions in the Gulf countries that were being done by India based individuals.
Shah, who is a resident of Uttar Pradesh, is now fighting a case against the government which he had filed in the Delhi High Court after he was accosted by armed men in September 2019 when he flew down to India from Dubai for the first time after the Finance ministry has mentioned his name in the Supreme Court. Shah, in his petition, has claimed that armed men in plain clothes forced him to go back to Dubai the same day he had landed.
Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Shah’s lawyer, Vivek Vidhyarthi, said that agencies have declined to file a response for the last one year. “We have requested the court to ask these agencies to present the evidence that they have against my client on the basis of which they are maligning him and curtailing his personal life and liberty. But these agencies have said that they do not want to file a response. How can they file a response when they do not have any evidence? Some of the officers who were in these agencies in 2018 wanted to derail the investigation by targeting Rajeshwar Singh, for which they produced a fake input that stated my client was working for the ISI. But till now, neither have they filed any FIR in the case, nor have they produced any evidence to support what they claimed in the Supreme court,” he said.