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Who killed Ashutosh Asthana?

delhi Updated: Mar 23, 2010 23:22 IST
Satya Prakash
Satya Prakash
Hindustan Times
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The mystery surrounding the custodial death of Ashutosh Asthana, prime accused in the Ghaziabad Provident Fund (PF) scam, deepened further with the post-mortem and viscera reports failing to establish how he died.

The two reports ruled out poisoning that was widely suspected to be the cause of

his death.

After perusing the reports and a separate report sent by the Ghaziabad Chief Judicial Magistrate in sealed covers, a three-judge bench headed by Justice D.K. Jain said, “One thing is clear that there is no poisoning…It has nothing to do with interrogation.”

According to the post-mortem report, the actual cause of his death could not be established, the bench said, adding there were no injury marks on his body.

Asthana (43), an administrative officer in the Ghaziabad District Court Treasury, died on October 17, 2009, in Dasna Jail, where he was lodged since February 2008 in connection with the scam.

His family members had alleged that he was “murdered” on the instructions of powerful people involved in the scam.

In his confessional statement, Asthana had named 36 sitting and retired judges, including those of the Allahabad High Court and district courts in Uttar Pradesh, besides an apex court judge as beneficiaries in the scam.

The fraudulent withdrawals were to the tune of crores of rupees from provident fund accounts of class III and class IX employees.

As the court said Asthana’s death should be treated as a “closed chapter”, advocate Kamini Jaiswal, representing one of the petitioners, opposed it, saying it was not a simple matter. She sought a copy of the report.

The court ordered that a copy of the report be given to Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati, who is assisting the court as amicus curiae. Jaiswal may collect it from the AG’s office, the bench said.

Meanwhile, the CBI that

had earlier sought transfer of the case to Delhi on the ground that the trial judge was not cooperating has done a

volte face.

Vahanvati told the court that the Ghaziabad District judge has written to him clarifying that there will be no legal impediment in conducting the trial, and in view of that, the probe agency did not want to shift the trial.

The Attorney General said the CBI has completed the field investigation.

It has examined 220 witnesses including 47 judicial officers and was in the process of scrutinising the 30,000 specimen signatures of the accused to ascertain their involvement. He said eight of the suspects have died while 15 were absconding, he added.

Attorney General Vahanvati said senior CBI officials would further vet the report prepared by the Investigating Officer in accordance with the CBI Manual.

Giving three months to the

CBI to complete the process, the court posted the matter

to July.