Why is Rajnish Rai still a thorn in the BJP’s flesh?

Home ministry had written to HRD ministry to act against a decision of IIM-A to recruit Rai as a faculty member

In view of Rajnish Rai, Gujarat-cadre IPS officer being appointed as the assistant professor at Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A), the HRD ministry has rejected a request from the Union Home Ministry to act against this decision of the institution saying it had wrongly appointed Rai! The HRD ministry wrote back to the Home Ministry expressing its inability to meddle with the affairs of the IIM, the institution being an autonomous body. The institution had taken legal opinion before appointing him as a faculty member in the department of Public Systems Group that promotes research in policy.

It was only after the Gujarat HC on July 23 this year made sharp remarks against such governmental interference that the MHRD had backtracked. A division bench of the court had expressed its disapproval when it emerged that the Ministry of Human Useful resource Improvement (MHRD) had earlier written to the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A) concerning the institute’s choice to make use of retired IPS officer Rajnish Rai. Justice S R Brahmbhatt, heading the division bench, requested after perusing the letter, “IIM-A is an unbiased establishment; the Authorities of India is writing such letters?”

Advocate Rahul Sharma, another IPS officer turned lawyer, now practising in the Gujarat high court, representing Rai, argued that the MHRD had written to IIM-A asking why the institute had employed Rai when he’s under suspension! Rai’s petition sought instructions to the respondent events to “not intervene, straight or not directly” and “enable him to take up any employment, career or occupation that he might select to earn his livelihood, subject to limitations positioned by Rule 26 of the All India Companies (Dying-Cum-Retirement Profit) Guidelines, 1958”.

Rai, clearly not favoured by the current regime in Delhi had supervised the probe into the encounter case of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, Kauserbi and Tulsiram Prajapati in 2007. He took voluntary retirement from the service (VRS) in November 2018 and was working with IIM-A as affiliate professor of Public Methods Group since March 6.

Rajnish Rai had arrested fellow officer D.G. Vanzara in connection with the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case in 2007. Probing the case, he had made his first arrests in 2007, where apart from Vanzara he had also arrested IPS officer Rajkumar Pandian and Rajasthan cadre IPS Dinesh MN among others. This had led him to constantly be at loggerheads with the State government helmed by Narendra Modi, the then CM of Gujarat.

On November 30, 2018, the 1992- batch IPS, Rai took voluntary retirement after completing 50 years of age. This was under Section 16 (2) of All India Services (Death-Cum-Retirement Benefit) Rules, 1958 that grants VRS to a government servant who has completed 50 years of age, provided they are not under suspension. When Rai applied for VRS, he was posted as Inspector General, Counter Insurgency and Anti-Terrorism School, CRPF in Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh.

The Union government had rejected Rai’s application for VRS and asked him to return to duty. While Rai approached the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) seeking relief, the Central Government issued a chargesheet against him and suspended him for handing over charge in an unauthorized manner.

Rai has moved the Gujarat HC challenging the suspension. The Home Ministry raised objections with the HRD Ministry about Rai’s appointment at IIM citing that he continued to be a suspended officer. The HRD Ministry has stepped away from the matter saying that the matter is still sub judice. 

Why is RajnishRai’s Appointment at the IIM such a ‘huge issue’?
In April 2007, Rai had shown exemplary courage by arresting Vanzara, Pandian and Dinesh MN in the fake encounter murder of Sohrabuddin, his wife Kauserbi and close associate Tulsiram Prajapati. Though Pandian was Rai’s batch-mate and close friend, Rai was convinced that Pandian had committed the crime of custodial murder.

He had levelled serious allegations against then Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah saying that he connived to kill Prajapati with the help of PC Pandey, a top cop whom Rai had indicted in 1992. Following the investigation, Shah, now the Union Home Minister and the most powerful man in the BJP, was jailed in connection to the case in 2010 and banned from entering Gujarat till 2012, lest he influence an otherwise fair investigation of the case.

Getting onto the bad side of the government, Rai was shipped to Chattisgarh’sJaduguda district as the Chief Vigilance Officer. Rai had then challenged this transfer saying that it had been issued with ‘mala fide intent’. While he was at Jaduguda, he had stumbled upon irregularities in the Uranium Corporation where he was posted. Conducting a probe and handing over the findings to the CBI, he was instead chargesheeted for conducting an unauthorized probe.

He was subsequently transferred to Shillong as IG, North Sector, CRPF, where he unearthed the gory practice of extrajudicial killings in Assam. After this, he was immediately shunted out to Chittoor when he pointed out that the joint encounter of two suspected militants was fake and that they had been killed in cold blood.

Prior to his appointment at IIM-A, he was prevented by the government from joining IIM-Udaipur as a faculty member.

Rai has been incessantly kicked around for exposing the loopholes and corruption in the system. All this for his belief that services should act according to the law.

Even after all these efforts, after the BJP won the national elections, charges against the arrested officers were dropped, they were acquitted in the matter and granted plum postings.
Punishment Transfer: CRPF DIG Rajneesh Rai who called Encounter ‘Fake’ Transferred out of North East
Kill people. Add up points. Move up the ranks: Disturbing truth in CRPF inspector general’s report
Sohrabuddin Fake Encounter: All accused acquitted, 92 witnesses turned hostile
Sohrabuddin Case File



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