At CBI vs CBI hearing, Delhi judge’s tongue lashing for probe agency
The agency had yesterday told the court that its former special director Rakesh Asthana and DSP Devender Kumar were found to be in the clear during investigations.Updated: Feb 12, 2020 12:26 IST
A special CBI judge on Wednesday lashed out at the probe agency for its investigation into a bribery case that was alleged to involve top CBI officers, asking the investigating officer to explain why the accused with a larger role in the case were still free but the agency’s deputy superintendent of police, or DSP, was arrested.
“Why did you arrest your own DSP Devender Kumar and spoil his career when the main player (Somesh Prasad) is yet to be arrested?” Special CBI judge Sanjeev Aggarwal told the CBI. Devender Kumar was arrested in October 2018 shortly after the case was filed by the agency. He was later released on bail.
The agency yesterday told the court that its former special director Rakesh Asthana and DSP Devender Kumar were found to be in the clear during investigations.
The court will take up the case again on February 19.
The CBI had registered the case against Asthana on the basis of a complaint from Hyderabad-based businessman Sathish Sana Babu, facing probe in a 2017 case involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi. The FIR was ordered by then CBI chief Alok Verma that eventually led the government to move out Alok Verma and Asthana from the CBI.
A probe by the central vigilance commission later indicted Alok Verma for suspected corruption, interference in probes and an attempt to induct tainted officers. Within the CBI, the probe against Asthana was seen as an attempt to scuttle Asthana’s chances from becoming the CBI chief by framing him. Verma has denied this accusation.
CBI vs CBI case
A case against Sathish Sana Babu was at the centre of the tug of war between Verma and Asthana. Sathish Sana Babu was eventually arrested by the Enforcement Directorate last year in a money laundering case involving controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi.
Asthana, who was overseeing the CBI’s special team put together to probe a bunch of complaints against Moin Qureshi, had pushed for Sathish Sana Babu’s arrest. Asthana had alleged that Sathish Sana Babuhad paid off some CBI officials to stay out of trouble.
Officials said it was around this time that Sathish Sana Babu, an accused in the case, filed a corruption complaint against Rakesh Asthana.
In the FIR registered by the CBI in October last year, Babu alleged that he had paid a Rs 2 crore bribe to Asthana via Dubai-based brothers - Manoj Prasad and Somesh Prasad - to be spared any action in the investigation linked to Qureshi. The money, he alleged, was paid over a 10-month period -- starting from December 2017.
CBI officer Satish Dagar, who is investigating the case, told the special CBI judge on Wednesday that a look-out circular had been opened against Somesh Prasad and letter rogatory are pending in further probe.
The agency told judge Sanjeev Aggarwal that investigators had been able to establish meetings and calls between Sathish Babu Sana and Manoj and Somesh Prasad. Sathish Sana Babu had also stood by his claim that he paid the bribe for a favourable treatment in the Moin Qureshi case but complained that his employee Punit Kharbanda, who allegedly delivered Rs 1.95 crore at the Press Club of India parking lot in central Delhi to Somesh’s father-in-law (as alleged in FIR), was “deceptive”.
On Sathish Sana Babu’s claim that he paid Rs 1 crore to the Prasad brothers in Dubai as the first instalment, the CBI told the judge that “there is no hard evidence of that payment”.