Anil Goswami's tenure was till June 30 (file photo)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has cracked the whip over Home Secretary Anil Goswami’s alleged attempt to stall the arrest of Saradha scam accused Matang Sinh, a former Congress minister. Following media reports that Goswami had tried to prevent officers of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) from arresting Sinh last weekend, the government asked the home secretary to step down.
According to the Indian Express, Goswami was summoned by Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday for an explanation and “confirmed making a call to the CBI”. Singh reportedly briefed the prime minister on the issue and the decision was taken to remove Goswami. The senior bureaucrat was allowed to resign to provide him a “dignified exit”, according to NDTV.
The decision was not an easy one, given that Delhi goes to the polls this Saturday and the home secretary oversees the security arrangements. According to media reports, the government had initially decided to remove Goswami after the counting of votes, but the nature of his actions meant his continuance had become untenable.
CBI was reportedly miffed with Goswami’s alleged interference in the arrest of Sinh, and the agency had submitted a report to the Prime Minister’s Office on the issue.
Goswami was appointed by the former UPA administration in 2013 and his tenure was till June 30. He was said to have been close to Sinh, a controversial politician from Assam who had been a Minister of State for Home in PV Narasimha Rao’s government in the 1990s.
Sinh was arrested by the CBI in Kolkata on Saturday on charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating, and misappropriation of funds. He allegedly took Rs 28 crore ($4.5 million) for selling a television channel that never went on air to Saradha Group chairman Sudipta Sen.
This is the second removal of a top bureaucrat in a week after Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh was suddenly replaced by S. Jaishankar on January 30.
Rural Development Secretary L.C. Goyal is expected to take over as the new home secretary.