Ashutosh Asthana, main accused in the multi-crore Ghaziabad Provident Fund scam, was under pressure to retract his confessional statement allegedly naming 36 judges, court documents show. He died mysteriously on Saturday.
Asthana filed an affidavit in a Ghaziabad special court on July 18, 2008 disowning his confessional statement in which he had named 36 judges including a Supreme Court sitting judge.
He took the entire responsibility for the scam and asked the court not to blame anyone else, Hindustan Times has learnt.
Within hours of filing the first affidavit, Asthana’s lawyer filed a second affidavit on his behalf, saying he had been “forced to file the earlier document, which should be ignored”.
Asthana was the main accused and a key witness in case involving the illegal withdrawal of Rs 7 crore from the provident fund of the Ghaziabad district courts. He claimed to have bought gifts for 36 judges with that money.
His family has alleged many powerful people wanted him to change his statement, and that he was poisoned to death.
“He was made to sign one of the affidavits on a Rs 5 stamp paper inside the jail complex on July 4, 2008,” Asthana’s lawyer S C Saxena said.
“After we met him, he told us that he had been made to sign the affidavit under immense pressure.”
According to his brother Shirish, Asthana feared for his life and had on February 15 asked the court for security and a separate cell in the jail.
Commenting on the letters and affidavits, Ghaziabad’s Dasna Jail superintendent V K Singh said proper security was provided to Asthana.
“If anything happens outside the jail complex, it’s the responsibility of the local police,” Singh said.