No officer should be under a "cloud", the Supreme Court said on Wednesday, maintaining that the centre was free to look into the "serious" charges against Enforcement Directorate officer Rajeshwar Singh, probing the "highly sensitive" 2G spectrum allocation scam cases including the Aircel-Maxis deal.
A vacation bench of justices Arun Mishra and S K Kaul, which was of the view that the allegations levelled against Singh were serious and required to be looked into, said it will be the government's call whether he will have any role to play in further probe in the Aircel-Maxis case being investigated by him.
The apex court also modified its interim order granting protection to Singh against inquiry and referred to the Centre's affidavit which stated that it does not intend to protect anybody in the case.
During the hearing, the bench said "As a matter of fact, when there are allegations, whether right or wrong, against you (Singh), it has to be looked into.
"The other issue is that you should not be victimised. The third point is whether it would be appropriate for you to investigate when you are under a cloud and under investigation," the bench said.
"You are simply an officer. You can't be given a blanket clean chit. Everybody is accountable. You must be accountable for any action. We need to ensure that you are accountable. We don't want to damage you or comment against you. There are very serious allegations against you," it told the officer.
It said that "as a matter of fact, when there are allegations, whether right or wrong against you (Singh) it has to be looked into ... the things which have come before us are startling."
The bench also noted that it was nobody's case that the present government was seeking to thwart the ongoing investigation and as per the government's affidavit, it does not intend to protect any "high or mighty".
It also took on record the government's assurance that the investigation would be done as per the specific time schedule fixed by the top court which, on March 12, had given a deadline of six months to complete the probe.
In the order, the bench said, "We direct that the government is free to look into the materials against respondent number 3 (Rajeshwar Singh) and the same can be looked into."
"... It will be the call of the government whether Singh will have any role to play in the matter," the bench said while referring to the fact that the charge sheet has already been filed in connection with the Aircel-Maxis deal case.
The court disposed of the petitions filed by Rajneesh Kapur, Rajeshwar Singh as well as that by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy.
The bench also made it clear that it has not commented against anybody in its order.
Earlier, Additional Solicitor General Vikramjit Banerjee, appearing for the Centre, told the court that the government was willing to investigate the allegations that Singh amassed disproportionate assets and handed over a communication in a sealed cover to the bench.
The bench, after perusing the documents placed before it in a sealed cover, said sensitive issues were involved in the matter.