Shaktikanta Das and his role in Aircel-Maxis and National Herald cases

Shaktikanta Das and Swamy have a long history of spats

Shaktikanta Das and Swamy have a long history of spats
Shaktikanta Das and Swamy have a long history of spats

While Subramanian Swamy tweeted about the Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das for his links with former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said Das was a “disciplined” officer, rebutting Swamy. The tussle between Swamy and this powerful bureaucrat in the Finance Ministry goes back a long way.

Swamy started attacking Das for his role in Aircel Maxis case to protect Chidambaram. Those days Das was Revenue Secretary. Enforcement Directorate (ED) comes under Revenue Secretary. In January 2014, the then Finance Minister moved out Rajeshwar Singh, Enforcement Directorate’s Deputy Director and Investigation Officer of 2G and Aircel-Maxis cases. As Investigating Officer Singh was directly reporting to Supreme Court’s 2G Bench, which was monitoring these high profile cases. Chidambaram was waiting for the retirement of Justice G S Singhvi in December 2013. As Singhvi was a tough judge, Chidambaram was well aware of the repercussions of changing an Investigating Officer.

Several times from 1990, many courts have given strong directions to Government for not changing the Investigating Officers in sensitive cases till the end of the trial. Within days of Justice Singhvi’s exit, Chidambaram removed the non-pliant officer Rajeshwar Singh from ED, who was recommended by UPSC for the absorption. This was an unprecedented action from the part of the Finance Ministry. The officer joined the ED from Uttar Pradesh Police service on deputation and UPSC recommended for his permanent absorption in ED.

Swamy challenged Finance Ministry’s move. Though Supreme Court ordered Rajeshwar Singh’s re-instatement in the ED in April 2014, the order was not implemented. When the new Government came, Swamy again approached the Supreme Court in October 2014 about the inaction on part of the Finance Ministry in re-instating Rajeshwar Singh[1]. Was Chidambaram controlling the Finance Ministry through pliant officers? That time CBI and ED’s Advocate was K K Venugopal in 2G related matters. Venugopal strongly objected to Finance Ministry’s dubious moves against Supreme Court appointed Investigating Officers.

A day before the arguments were to commence, Revenue Secretary Shaktikanta Das changed K K Venugopal and fielded Nageswara Rao as ED’s Advocate[2]. Nageswara Rao was then Assistant Solicitor General (ASG) appointed by the UPA and is currently a judge in the Supreme Court.

Nageswara Rao under the instructions of Revenue Department told the Supreme Court in September 2014 that all the probe in Aircel Maxis case by ED is over and that there was no need for maintaining the Investigating Officer Rajeshwar Singh[1]. Swamy blasted Rao in the Court. K K Venugopal also took Finance Ministry to task for its distortions in the Court. The Supreme Court passed a stern direction to Ministry to absorb Rajeshwar Singh in three working days slamming the Finance Ministry[3].

Even after Supreme Court’s direction, Revenue Department went ahead with a service case against Rajeshwar Singh’s absorption by UPSC. In all legal forums Finance Ministry lost the case including Central Administrative Tribunal and the Delhi High Court[4]. Was this punishment to Rajeshwar Singh for raiding Chidambaram’s son Karti and his companies in Aircel Maxis case? Even today, Finance Ministry’s appeal is pending before Supreme Court in Service Case for Delhi High Court ratifying CAT’s order to permanently absorb the officer in ED. Was Das delaying due promotions to Rajeshwar Singh by conducting a service case?

So when the Finance Minister gives a certificate to Shaktikanta Das as a “disciplined officer”, it opens it up for interpretation of what constitutes being “disciplined”.[5]

During the period when Das was Revenue Secretary, the ED under him in mid-2015 even tried to block the probe in the National Herald case[6]. After the trial court found prima-facie evidence, Swamy filed petition to the ED for registering cases for money laundering in National Herald deals. In those days ED’s chief was Rajan Katoch, a UPA appointee and cousin of Congress leader Digvijaya Singh. Both Das and Katoch tried to scuttle the case. After Swamy’s complaint to Prime Minister Narendra Modi[6], Katoch was shunted out from ED and Shaktikanta Das was shifted out from the powerful Revenue Department which controls ED, Income Tax, Customs and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI).

Some thoughts to ponder:

  1. Is Dr. Swamy justified in his observations of Shaktikanta Das?
  2. Why is Mr. Jaitley being so sensitive to a tweet by Dr. Swamy?
  3. Is the NDA government finding it difficult to get things moving thanks to such “disciplined” officers?


[1] Permanent absorption of Rajeshwar Singh as ED Dy Dir: SCSep 8, 2014, RSTV

[2] Supreme Court Appoints Venugopal as Amicus Curiae for 2G MattersSep 09, 2015, NDTV

[3] SC orders permanent absorption of Rajeshwar Singh as ED Deputy DirectorDec 24, 2013, Indianexpress

[4] CAT slaps contempt notice on CentreFeb 25, 2014, Business Standard

[5] An unfair attack on a disciplined civil servant Arun-Jaitley backs Shaktikanta DasJun 23, 2016, Narada News

[6] Dr Subramanian Swamys letter to PM against ED chief jt director for non action and scuttling of probe in national herald case – VHS India

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  1. I welcome Dr.Swamy’s information in the Public interest. I expect Hon’ble SC orders re-instatement of the ED and also expedite Justice in this case. Also review NJAC Act Constitutional Amendment Act 99 in view of it in Constitutional Amendment Ordinance 39.

  2. First of all, Why the honorable SC is not observing any contempt of court. Second, if this man swami is having so much of information then why he was silent that too since two years. He is merely a blackmailer and just want to encash the information. He never think in positive manner and never ever wants a transparent Government.

  3. Looks like Modi will have to take a call on Jaitley and his bureaucrats before long if Swamy’s charges have even 10% truth in them. Else hope for a rerun of 1980 election which brought Indira back with a bang. And there is not much time to lose, since these bozos can do more damage every single day they are in office. Mufti ConGrassmen in Modi’s Govt must be xposed and ousted. Period.

  4. Oh my God. Gone are the days when even for a natural accident beyond their direct control like rail accident when ministers resign their jobs citing moral responsibility eg: Lal Bahadur Shastri for Ariyalur rail accident or i read somewhere Delhi metro man Sridhar even willing to resign in middle of a project due to part of a contruction portion during construction collapsed.
    Here is something artificial man made derailing of a graft case happens and everyone is silent..;)

  5. Mr Modi to Intervene. What Swamy says is seems to be truth. then it is the duty of Modi to stop such nonsense. It brings bad reputation to BJP

  6. It is horrendous to think what a difficult path truth has to travel before establishing itself. No wonder no politician is really punished. The policy of I scratch your back and you scratch mine is very apt in our political system! Jaitley though an efficient minister has to account himself before us the citizens to avoid being painted with the same brush as P C and Sonia’s gang were painted. So sad our country is being looted by the political class !

  7. Somebody superseded many to become secretary at Centre because of blessings of Minister. Thus starts corruption in bureaucracy…,unholy nexus. Deep sanitisation of congi moles required. Swamy does not bluff.

  8. Oh my god .. Even if there is substance in cases against high profile politicians It has to pass so many roadblocks and only in the event of crossing it , it may reach the final logical conclusion ? That’s the reason why politicians involve in wrongdoings without fear ?

  9. The PM should now use his veto (setting aside his compulsions) and handover FM to Dr. Swamy for the good of the nation and if BJP’s poll promises on the economic front are to be met eg black money, else expect a fragmented mandate in 2019 as the middle class is already frustrated with this government as nothing seems to be moving on ground and common citizen further burdened with additional taxes.

    The current FM seems to be protecting the scamsters thereby sending a wrong message to the public regarding the intent of this government which is expected to usher Indian into a new era of development.

  10. Somebody superseded several to become secretary at Centre because of blessings of Minister. So starts corruption in bureaucracy. Deep sanitisation required.

  11. After a long time happy to rea studied article. Plz enlighten us on R3’s departure if its true dat he said”a govt spending 11k crores on ads fr their achievemnts i cant work wit them as i cant tolerate/do wrong things”


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