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High Court extends stay on transfer of ED officer

The orders will remain in force till February 26, the next date of hearing, the court said. As the matter came up for hearing before a division bench of the High Court comprising justices S K Mittal and Deepak Sibal, the Enforcement Directorate filed its reply and submitted record pertaining to officer Niranjan Singh’s transfer from ED’s Jalandhar-based office to Kolkata.

The ED claimed that his services were required in Kolkata in a case monitored by the Supreme Court. The argument, however, did not find much favour with the bench. The bench was of the opinion that some other official could be sent there or promoted for the purpose.

The High court also declined request made by counsel Navkiran Singh for a status report in the drug case. The plea against the transfer was filed by Navkiran Singh in the ongoing drugs case pending adjudication before the High Court.

Navkiran Singh, on behalf of NGO Lawyers for Human Rights International, had contended that the transfer would hamper the investigation by the ED into the 6000-crore money laundering international drug racket case. The probe, he had stated, was at the final stage.

He had also claimed that the ED officials transfer was neither in public interest, nor in the interest of justice.

The case was being supervised by the High Court and status reports were being filed by the State and Central agencies.

The shifting out of an investigating officer, playing an important role in the investigation, was not beyond suspicion, Navkiran Singh had submitted. “In situations where the investigating officers of two important cases, the coal scam and 2G scam, were transferred and the Supreme Court found the same not to be in the interest of justice, it stayed the transfer orders and ordered that the particular investigating officers would remain as investigating officer till the completion of the trial.

“In the present case, since the Enforcement Directorate has interrogated more than 50 important witnesses and the investigation is at fag end, the changing of investigating officer would be sending the investigation directionless..,” he claimed. Alleged kingpin in the drugs case Jagdish Singh Bhola’s father has also moved the High Court demanding a probe into the transfer.

In his petition, Balchinder Singh referred to reports in the media to say that “the Enforcement Directorate officer, who made inquiries from Majithia, has been transferred to Kolkata”. The report also mentioned that the official and Bhola were “apprehending danger” from the Punjab Police.

Niranjan Singh, who was posted as Assistant Director of the investigation agency at its Jalandhar office, was the main investigator in the drugs money laundering case and was also part of the team which recently questioned Majithia in the same case in Jalandhar.   The officer was also the main officer for probe into a number of money laundering and forex violations cases that are being conducted in the state for a long time now.

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