The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has summoned Rajiv Arun Ekka, the former principal secretary to Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren on Wednesday in connection with the money laundering case linked to suspended IAS officer Pooja Singhal, official sources said on Tuesday.
Ekka, now secretary in the panchayati raj department, is likely to be questioned on the alleged irregularities in MGNREGA scheme linked to the case, the sources told PTI.
Ekka, who is embroiled in the controversy for allegedly signing official documents at a private place, was removed from the post following BJP’s allegation of his conniving with middlemen.
The ED is probing Singhal’s role in alleged irregularities in the mining sector of the state too as part of a second case filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) along with the alleged MNREGA scam. Meanwhile, Jharkhand government on Monday set up an inquiry commission to probe the allegations against Ekka.
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This followed BJP leader Babulal Marandi’s letter to the state chief secretary Sukhdev Singh on Monday seeking thorough probe into the alleged involvement of a power broker besides an engineer in the Police Building Construction Corporation, action against Ekka and departmental engineers.
He also provided alleged copies of letters by Ekka and the engineer and claimed that they showed ”a deep rooted nexus”. He also demanded the filing of an FIR against the officers involved. Marandi, a former chief minister of the state, also alleged that an engineer of the Police Building Construction Corporation was re-appointed on contract after retirement without any advertisement for the post. The notification issued by the department of personnel, administration and rajbhasa said that it considers the issue to be of public importance necessitating a thorough, independent and impartial inquiry. It appointed Justice (Retd) Vinod Kumar Gupta, a former chief justice of Jharkhand High Court as a one member commission of inquiry for probing all the issues and allegations pertaining to the matter.
The commission will complete its inquiry within six months and submit a report containing its conclusion, findings and recommendations to the government, it added.
The ED has said it seized cash amounting to more than Rs 36 crore linked to alleged illegal mining during investigations in two money laundering cases. The central probe agency seized around Rs three crore cash earlier this month during searches at a location in Hazaribag district. The searches were part of its investigation into the money laundering case against Singhal and others.
Singhal, a 2000-batch Indian Administrative Service officer and former mines secretary of Jharkhand, was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on May 11, 2022 on money laundering charges linked to alleged irregularities in the MGNREGA scheme. Raids were conducted in properties linked to her. Singhal’s confidential assistant Suman Kumar Singh was apprehended by the ED with Rs 19.31 crore in cash from his office and residence in May last year and has been in custody since then. She was a client of Singh, who looked after her financial portfolio as a chartered accountant. The Supreme Court had granted interim bail to her in the case on February 10 for a period of two months to enable her to look after her ailing daughter.
On March 4 Marandi had released a 22 second video clip at the party headquarters here claiming that Ekka could be seen signing government files in the private office of a power broker in it. Following this the state government had replaced Ekka with Vandana Dadel and transferred him to the panchayati raj department within hours. On March 6 a nine-member delegation of the Jharkhand BJP had met Governor C P Radhakrishnan and urged him to direct the state government to facilitate a CBI probe into charges of corruption against Ekka.