THE government on Wednesday night removed Rajan S Katoch, 1979 batch Madhya Pradesh cadre IAS, as Enforcement Director (ED) and appointed 1984 batch UT cadre IPS officer Karnal Singh, now a special director in the directorate as the acting ED for three months or until further order. The removal of Katoch, who has been holding the additional charge as ED since July 2014 in addition to discharging his duty as union heavy industries secretary, is already due, but in all probability, the order of his removal was expedited after…BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had complained to prime minister Narendra Modi that the ED wanted to close the National Herald case without properly investigating it. Earlier Swamy accused Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son and vice-president of the party Rahul Gandhi of grabbing the property of National Herald, a newspaper launched by Jawaharlal Nehru in pre-Independence era which was subsequently closed.
“Good to hear en route to New Jersey that action on appointment of new Director of ED followed my letter to PM. More action to follow”, Swamy tweeted after the news of Katoch’s removal broke on Wednesday night.
Significantly, Modi in his Independence Day Speech noted that attachments under PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) worth ₹ 4,500 crore were made in last 10 months, a direct compliment to Enforcement Directorate that administers the PMLA.
In fact, Katoch, the then additional secretary in the ministry of commerce, was not the first choice of the UPA government to head the enforcement directorate. When the then ED Arun Kumar Mathur retired in February 2012, the government actually played the musical chair. Amitabh Ranjan, also a 1979 batch IAS, was first named as ED for a month, but in less than a fortnight, another finance ministry official Rakesh Singh was appointed as Enforcement Director. Then, Katoch was appointed as ED and he took charge in March 2012.
A PhD in economics, Katoch had earlier worked (1990-94) with the World Bank on a deputation. He was a joint secretary-level officer of the Planning Commission (now NITI Aayog), resident commissioner of Madhya Pradesh Bhawan in New Delhi, and additional secretary in the ministry of commerce.Katoch hails from Himachal Pradesh. He will retire in February 2016.