After FIR, CBI boss to push for deputy Rakesh Asthana’s suspension, removal
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is likely to seek action against its special director Rakesh Asthana, who has long been in a tussle with director Alok Verma, and his immediate repatriation to his cadre state Gujarat, an agency official said Monday.
A CBI officer told Hindustan Times that the director is to move to a formal proposal for action against Asthana Monday but was caught up with other official work. “Asthana’s continuation has become untenable... The CBI director will send the communication for his removal in a day or two at the most,” the official said.
The paperwork for the recommendation is in the process of being completed, the official added.
CBI director Verma had met prime minister Narendra Modi Sunday to brief him on the allegations against Asthana, against whom the agency had last week filed a corruption case on a complaint from Hyderabad-based businessman Sana Satish Babu. The businessman alleged that Dubai-based brothers, Manoj Prasad and Somesh Prasad, demanded ₹5 crore from him for Asthana’s intervention in a case the agency registered against controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi. He also claimed to have paid them money.
The CBI had Monday arrested its deputy superintendent of police Devender Kumar who was also named in the corruption case registered against Asthana and searched his office and residence.
On the other hand, Asthana has accused Verma of interfering in investigations carried out under his supervision and made a formal complaint to cabinet secretary Pradeep Sinha, who asked the Central Vigilance Commission to look into the matter.
Asthana was brought to the CBI by the government in 2016 and had been widely perceived to have been positioned to head the CBI. As a Gujarat cadre police officer, he had supervised the initial investigation into the Godhra train burning incident when he was inspector general of police of the state’s Vadodara range.
His appointment as an interim CBI director in December 2016 provoked sharp protests from the opposition and he had to eventually make way for Verma, who was brought in as a full-time CBI boss five weeks later.