In corruption case against CBI no.2 Rakesh Asthana, PM Modi’s clear-cut order

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New Delhi, October 23: Prime Minister Narendra Modi told CBI chief Alok Verma on Sunday to “let the law take its own course” when the latter briefed him on the allegations against agency special director Rakesh Asthana, an official familiar with the development said on Monday.

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The CBI expanded its probe into the case on Monday by arresting a deputy superintendent of police (DSP)-rank official. Investigators are preparing to question two supervisory officers — one of superintendent of police rank and the other of inspector general — in the case. The agency will also seek a clarification from a senior intelligence official who investigators suspect may have been acting in his “individual capacity”.

“Director Verma sought an appointment with the PM to brief him on the case against Asthana. Following the briefing, the PM told the CBI chief to let the law take its own course. Director Verma separately met national security adviser Ajit Doval too,” said the CBI official cited above. He spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The Prime Minister’s Office did not offer any comment on the meeting.

But a senior official confirmed that the PM met the CBI chief. The CBI official said Verma was likely to recommend the suspension and immediate repatriation of Asthana to his parent cadre of Gujarat in a day or two.

The case against Asthana has been registered on a complaint by a Hyderabad-based businessman, Sana Satish Babu, who alleged that two Dubai-based brothers – Manoj Prasad and Somesh Prasad – claimed that they were acting on behalf of the CBI special director and allegedly struck a deal for Rs 5 crore to protect him in a case that the agency registered against controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi. Former CBI director AP Singh is also an accused in the case.

Two months before the registration of the case, Asthana complained to cabinet secretary Pradeep Sinha that it was Verma who called him in February to call off the questioning of the Hyderabad-based businessman. Asthana alleged that Sana Satish Babu was being protected by Verma under a monetary deal of Rs 2 crore. The cabinet secretary forwarded this complaint to the central vigilance commission (CVC).

Asthana cited nine other instances where he alleged that Verma and agency joint director Arun Kumar Sharma were trying to interfere in investigations with ulterior motives. The CBI has formally denied the charges against Verma and Sharma.

The agency has now named Sana Satish Babu as a witness in the case against Qureshi. Asthana wrote to the CVC that he recommended Sana Satish Babu’s arrest in the case in September .

After the registration of an FIR against Asthana, the CBI arrested the alleged middleman in the case, Manoj Prasad, who is in the agency’s custody for interrogation.

On Monday, the CBI arrested Devender Kumar and named him an accused in the case on charges of fabricating records. Kumar was the designated investigation officer in the case against Qureshi.

The agency in a formal statement said: “The matter relates to the creation of a statement under section 161 (Criminal Procedure Code) of Shri Sathish Sana, a witness in Moin Qureshi case, showing it to be recorded on September 26, 2018 at Delhi. During the investigation, it has been found that Shri Sana was not present in Delhi on that day and was in Hyderabad. Shri Sana actually joined investigation at Delhi on October 1.”

The CBI statement linked the fabrication of evidence charge against Kumar to the allegations and counter-allegations that the CBI’s two top officers have been hurling at each other.

“It (CBI) found that Devender Kumar had fabricated this statement as an afterthought plan to corroborate the baseless allegations made by Special Director Rakesh Asthana against Director Alok Kumar Verma to CVC,” the statement said.

An investigator said Kumar’s office was searched on Monday and a few documents recovered.

“If Kumar agrees to come clean, we intend to make him an approver in the case,” said an investigator.

In the statement, the CBI added “the role of other officers of SIT (special investigation team) CBI, then supervising the Moin Qureshi case” was also being probed.

Asthana headed the SIT.

“We will question the SP and IG to whom Devender reported in the case now,” said the investigator.

He said the agency would also seek a clarification from a senior intelligence officer of a sister agency who may have acted in his individual capacity in the case.

Source Hindustan Times

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