How the drama has been unfolding at CBI over past one week follows a series of infights that have been witnessed over a long period of time.
Alok Verma, CBI Director was planning to arrest its special director Rakesh Asthana due to various allegations levelled against the latter. However, the Delhi High Court immediately stepped in on Tuesday and restrained the CBI from taking any action on Asthana. What happened next led the entire nation by shock.
It was Verma instead who was stripped of his responsibilities just hours after the Delhi High Court order. A government official to Hindustan Times,
“Not only Asthana, but two other key officials, joint director A Sai Manohar and superintendent of police Jagroop Gusinha, working under him in the Special Investigation Team looking into the case against controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi were on the list of those who were to be arrested.”
The official further said the three got alarmed as they felt they too could be arrested when their subordinate, deputy superintendent of police Devendra Kumar, who was also the investigation officer in the tax evasion and money laundering case against Qureshi, was taken into custody. The CBI officials however have refused to make any comment on record. When HT tried contacting both Verma and Asthana, neither of them replied to the phone calls and messages to clarify their version of the story.
On 15th October, the CBI had registered an FIR against Asthana alleging that the two middlemen had allegedly struck a Rs. 5 crore deal on his behalf. The deal was to facilitate and close the case against Hyderabad-based businessman Sana Satish Babu, who is also being investigated along with Qureshi.
The agency had already started searching Devendra Kumar’s office and residence before arresting him, and this was going to lead to a probable arrest of Asthana next. A CBI official on condition of anonymity said,
“On Tuesday, when Asthana approached the Delhi high court, the agency investigators were moving fast in the case against him. Plans were afoot to search offices and residences of Asthana, Manohar, and Gusinha and then arrest them in the case. Due to the arrest threat on Tuesday, neither Manohar nor Gusinha were in the office.”
However, in another instance, it was Asthana who had earlier filed a complaint with the cabinet secretary, against Alok Verma, alleging that Verma had tried to stop him from questioning Babu. He had also levelled charges of corruption against Verma alleging that Babu had paid Rs. 2 crore to get the case closed against him.
As per CBI official sources, Verma’s team were planning to question Asthana even after the high court had passed an order for not arresting him. This could have been one of the reasons for Verma’s ouster hours within the court order in favour of Asthana.
There were six instances against Asthana placed on record in June this year as part of the appraisal process and communicated to the Directorate of Personnel and Training (DoPT) which comes under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Rakesh Asthana was also named in the Rs. 5,000-crore Sterling Biotech case involving the Sandesara brothers.
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