Allahabad: In an embarrassment to the Mayawati government, the Allahabad High Court on Wednesday sought replies from the state as well as the Centre on a criminal Public Interest Litigation filed against the Chief Minister's close confidante and UP Cabinet Secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh.

The PIL has claimed that a nine-year-old report of the Income Tax Department had accused Singh of land grabbing and money laundering.

The order was passed by a Division Bench comprising Justice Amar Saran and Justice Ramesh Sinha on the PIL filed by Vinod Kumar Verma, a resident of Pratapgarh district who has claimed to have based his allegations against Singh and his brother Mudit on a report of the IT department dated June 18, 2002.

In the PIL, a prayer has been made that directions be issued for lodging an FIR against Singh, retired defence personnel whose appointment to the state's top bureaucratic post has been mired in controversies.

Talking to reporters outside the court, Rajeev Singh, counsel for the Union of India, which along with the state of UP has been made a party in the case, said the more than 100-page-long report has accused the state Cabinet Secretary and his brother of indulging in money laundering and land-grabbing in various parts of the state.

The court issued notices to the Centre and the state besides Singh himself asking them to file their counter-affidavits within three weeks.

Singh was made the state's Cabinet Secretary shortly after Mayawati assumed the Chief Ministership in 2007.

A petition, challenging Singh's appointment to the post despite the fact that he did not belong to the Indian Administrative Service or the Provincial Civil Service, is pending before the Supreme Court which has sought an explanation from the state government as to under what rules Mayawati's confidante was appointed to the post.

The state government has, meanwhile, gone on the defensive by divesting Singh of most of his powers and responsibilities and vesting the same in the state's Chief Secretary without, however, stripping him off the post of the Cabinet Secretary.

(Agencies)