‘Rivalry’ between ex-bureaucrat, Delhi vigilance secy resurfaces with letter to media, defamation threat

An official supervising probes against the AAP government wrote an unusual letter to news agencies last month.

WrittenBy:Pratyush Deep
Date:
The subject of the official's letter with the Delhi Secretariat in the backdrop.
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Tensions between a former bureaucrat and a secretary in Delhi’s vigilance department are back in the media glare with a series of letters and official notes referring to a CBI probe into a bank fraud case filed last year. 

In a legal notice threatening a defamation case on October 30, AV Prem Nath, who was “prematurely retired” by the Ministry of Home Affairs last month, accused YVVJ Rajasekhar – a special secretary (vigilance) supervising key probes  against the Arvind Kejriwal government – of being linked to suspects in this CBI case. 

And it wasn’t the first time Nath had levelled charges against Rajasekhar. Last year, he wrote to the central government about alleged corruption under Rajasekhar’s tenure at NDMC and about the alleged use of a fake OBC certificate by Rajasekhar to clear the civil services exam in 1994.

But before Nath’s legal notice on October 30, Rajasekhar wrote an unusual letter to the union ministry of home affairs as well as UNI, PTI, ANI, IANS and Hindustan Samachar on October 27. He attached a checklist that journalists should follow before they publish “anything scurrilous” against him or his department. On November 2, he claimed in a press note that this was issued to tackle stories that were being “planted” to influence the legal process and to link him to shell companies.

Around the same time, Rajasekhar received two clean chits on all the allegations against him: one through a vigilance department letter to the Union ministry of home affairs on October 30 and another through a high-level committee’s report on October 26.  

The vigilance department, in fact, sought a police probe into Nath’s role in the CBI case, alleging that he held a grudge against one of the suspects. The department also claimed that he had similarly tried to tarnish the reputation of another vigilance department officer earlier in 2021. 

However, Nath told Newslaundry that this was a “brazen misuse” of the vigilance department to serve Rajasekhar’s “agenda”.

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Rivalry?

Rajasekhar and Nath hail from Andhra Pradesh, and joined the civil services as DANICS officers in 1995 and 1997, respectively. Rajasekhar was promoted to the IAS category in 2012.

Tensions between the officers surfaced in public last year too when Nath wrote a letter to the Central government, questioning Rajasekhar’s transfer from Goa to the vigilance department in September. Since then, Nath has levelled various allegations of corruption against Rajasekhar, including an alleged Rs 2,500 crore NDMC scam and the alleged use of a fake OBC certificate. 

The letter to the media and a defamation threat 

Rajasekhar told Newslaundry that he had received permission from “higher authorities” to write the letter on October 27. But while he anticipated reports linking him to shell companies, the media coverage that followed did not. Instead, his name popped up in a news report under completely different circumstances.

On October 28, The Times of India published a report headlined “Cops file adverse status report on DANICS officer under probe”. It said the Delhi police had filed a status report in the Delhi High Court in a case involving Nath, who, according to the police, purportedly “held a grudge” against Rajasekhar and filed “false” complaints against him. 

The police status report dates back to July.

According to the report, the police status report had come in a case pertaining to a complaint by one Nakul Kashyap, who had accused Rajasekhar of casteist remarks and demands for cash in compensatory appointment. The police claimed that Nath was behind Kashyap’s false complaint. 

However, two days later, Nath sent Rajasekhar and The Times of India a legal notice threatening civil and criminal defamation. The notice demanded that the two respondents cease from publishing “misleading” and “false” news, publish an unconditional apology, and issue a corrigendum. Nath, in his legal notice, alleged that it maligned his image as the matter was sub-judice. He also accused Rajasekhar of vendetta for accusing him of corruption.

On the day Nath sent his legal notice, the vigilance department’s assistant director wrote to the MHA seeking a comprehensive police probe into Nath’s “false” complaints.

Then, on November 2, Rajasekhar issued his press note mentioning that the three allegations that had surfaced against him – alleged corruption in appointments, a complaint by an NGO, and casteist remarks – were planted by “delinquent” officials. 

Nath was allegedly linked to at least two of these allegations, with the Delhi police earlier claiming that these were based on false complaints levelled by him, and the vigilance letter to the MHA on October 30 in turn relying on the same police claim. 

The vigilance department letter on October 30 wasn’t the only official clean chit to Rajasekhar. On November 4, media outlets cited an October 26 report by a high-level committee, comprising Principal Secretary (Home) Ashiwini Kumar, Principal Secretary (Services) AK Singh and Secretary (Vigilance) Sudhir Kumar, which cleared Rajasekhar of all the allegations.

The CBI case

The CBI case which is at the centre of this controversy dates back to September 2022 when the United Bank of India filed a complaint with the investigative agency’s anti-corruption bureau in Dehradun alleging a bank fraud to the tune of Rs 38 crore. 

The FIR accused one Apoorva Joshi, his wife Gweetika Kweera, their companies and “unknown public servants” of “siphoning” off  Rs 38 crore through their various subsidiaries. 

It alleged the companies owned by Joshi and Kweera had availed loans totalling Rs 38 crore between 2007 and 2017, but they transferred the borrowed funds to their subsidiaries and related parties while defaulting on their repayments. It stated that a forensic audit in 2022 classified the company as fraud and that it had allegedly cheated the bank by diverting the funds through shell companies.

Nath alleged that the suspects were linked to Rajasekhar. The vigilance department, however, said that Nath made the same allegation against another vigilance official, who was then probing disciplinary matters against Nath, in 2021. It further claimed that Nath had been at loggerheads against one of the suspects since 2010 as he was “exposing” his allegedly corrupt activities as the editor of an obscure news portal. 

Rajasekhar’s record

There have been several allegations against Rajasekhar, including blatant insubordination, indiscipline, biased inquiry, falsification of facts, not presenting himself before the Delhi assembly’s committee of SC/ST welfare,  attempt to outrage modesty, pressuring officials for an incorrect report, unauthorised break-in,  trespass in a complainant’s house, and misconduct.

He has also had several run-ins with the elected Delhi government. In May, he was relieved of all duties by the Kejriwal government amid allegations of corruption and extortion. This action swiftly followed a Supreme Court decision placing services under the jurisdiction of the Delhi government. He subsequently alleged a break-in at his office, contending that sensitive files and documents had gone missing. In response, Delhi Services Minister Saurabh Bhardwaj filed a police complaint accusing Rajasekhar and Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar of a conspiracy. 

But Rajasekhar was swiftly reinstated after the Centre introduced an ordinance to establish the National Capital Civil Services Authority, granting the Lieutenant Governor final decision-making power. 

The rift persisted. In June, the Delhi Assembly initiated an investigation into his caste certificate, based on an accusation claiming he had presented a “fake” OBC certificate during the Civil Service Examination in 1994. 

In September, Delhi Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel penned a letter to Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena, urging disciplinary action against Rajasekhar over allegations that he was pressuring secretariat officials on the ongoing probe into his OBC caste certificate

A 2012 batch AGMUT cadre IAS officer, Rajasekhar is seen as close to Delhi Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar and is overseeing probes such as the Delhi excise policy case, the separate intelligence unit case, the political ads case, a Mohalla Clinic “scam”, and the “Sheesh Mahal” case.

‘Clear abuse of law’

The dispute between Rajasekhar and Nath goes a long way.

In September last year, Nath, then posted as joint secretary in the Delhi government’s department of urban development, wrote to the MHA and the Prime Minister’s Office questioning Rajasekhar’s transfer from Goa to the vigilance department the same month.

In his letter, Nath alleged that Rajasekhar had been involved in financial irregularities when he was posted as the director (estate) at the NDMC between 2015-19. It also alleged Rajasekhar was involved in a scam to the tune of Rs 2,500 crore in which some companies were allegedly favoured in the issuance and renewal of licences to some prominent hotels in the Lutyens zone.

Nath’s record too is not entirely unblemished.

Nath was earlier accused by the Delhi police of filing “false” complaints against Rajasekhar, months before he was told by the MHA to retire in “public interest” in October. He faces at least five cases, including disproportionate assets, cheating, among others.

In October last year, days after writing the letter against Rajasekhar, he was suspended over a POCSO case. A police complaint was lodged in Uttarakhand but Nath moved the Supreme Court for the case to be transferred to the CBI. Nath, with a 100 percent hand disability, had claimed that he was falsely implicated by a woman, who he had removed from service in Delhi over a recruitment scam and whose daughter was made the complainant in the case allegedly at the behest of an Uttarakhand IPS officer

The Supreme Court stayed the proceedings in the case in February this year, noting the lack of charges framed by the police and requesting a response from the CBI.

On October 9 this year, was prematurely retired by the MHA, which did not specify any particular reason for the decision. 

The vigilance department letter last month that sought a probe against Nath said that the “involvement of higher and mightier ones as well as delinquent officers/officials cannot be ruled out considering the nature of cases” examined by Rajasekhar. It alleged that Nath used fake email IDs to generate false complaints and circulated news items about the same on social media, and used the same as evidence to file more complaints. 

Nath termed the department’s letter a “brazen misuse of vigilance administration by YVVJ Rajasekhar to further his private agenda”. 

“It shows once again how the whistleblowers and others who complain against their wrong doings and criminal misconduct are subjected to a witch-hunt. And instrumentalities of the state are continuously being weaponised for using the force of criminal law to silence the voice of the dissenters and complainants like me, and it is a clear abuse of law,” he told Newslaundry

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