CBI vs CBI:Court accepts agency’s Rakesh Asthana clean chit

Updated on Mar 08, 2020 01:51 AM IST

The special CBI court also agreed with the agency’s decision to absolve deputy superintendent of police Devender Kumar, and summoned Dubai-based brothers Manoj and Somesh Prasad as accused in the case.

CBI’s former special director Rakesh Asthana(Arun Sharma/HT PHOTO)
CBI’s former special director Rakesh Asthana(Arun Sharma/HT PHOTO)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByNeeraj Chauhan

In a decision that would offer him considerable relief, a Delhi court on Saturday accepted the clean chit handed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to its former special director Rakesh Asthana in an alleged case of bribery registered against him in October 2018 at the peak of his feud with his boss and CBI director Alok Verma.

The special CBI court also agreed with the agency’s decision to absolve deputy superintendent of police Devender Kumar, and summoned Dubai-based brothers Manoj and Somesh Prasad as accused in the case.

Special CBI judge Sanjeev Aggarwal said in his order that “there wasn’t sufficient material against the public servants – Asthana and Kumar.”

Saturday’s court order accepting the clean chit means there is no investigation pending against Asthana or Kumar any more.

“The truth ultimately prevails,” Asthana told HT, hours after his exoneration of all the charges in the case.

The development is significant because Asthana, a 1984-batch Gujarat-cadre Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, would now be eligible for inclusion in the panel of candidates for the next CBI chief when the government starts looking for a replacement for incumbent RK Shukla in January next year.

Shukla will retire in January 2021-end. Asthana is currently the director general of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) and the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS).

Asthana had been booked for alleged criminal conspiracy, corruption and criminal misconduct under sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act (PC Act) on a complaint filed by Hyderabad-based businessman Sathish Babu Sana. In February, the CBI said there was no evidence to show that Asthana ever demanded or paid any bribe to save the complainant in a money laundering case related to controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi.

Asthana has maintained from day one that the “fabricated” FIR, dated October 15, 2018, against him was filed at the behest of Verma after he exposed alleged corruption on the part of the then-CBI director before the cabinet secretary in August the same year. Asthana also informed the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and the government that Verma had taken 2 crore from Sana.

Verma was removed by the government from the CBI director’s post in January last year after a CVC enquiry into the allegations of corruption. He was made director general of fire services, civil defence and home guards; he declined the posting and put in his papers.

CBI itself is conducting an enquiry against Verma in at least three matters of corruption and criminal misconduct. Verma did not respond to a text message from HT on Saturday.

Agreeing with CBI’s decision to absolve Asthana and Kumar, Aggarwal summoned Manoj Prasad, his brother Somesh Prasad and the latter’s father-in-law, Sunil Mittal, as accused under sections related to criminal conspiracy, cheating, extortion, as well as under a section of the PC Act.

The FIR against Asthana, filed on a complaint by Sana, stated that Manoj Prasad told Sana about his “good connections” in CBI and that his brother Somesh Prasad would help save him in the Moin Qureshi case, being investigated by a special investigation team (SIT) led by Asthana since 2017. Sana claimed that when he met Somesh Prasad in Dubai, he was told that Asthana would surely save him in the case. Somesh Prasad claimed that he had been managing the CBI officer’s investments in Dubai and London for many years.

The businessman claimed he saw Asthana’s photo on Somesh’s WhatsApp account and paid the first instalment of a bribe — 1 crore — to Manoj Prasad in Dubai, and later 1.95 crore to Mittal on December 12, 2017 at the Press Club of India’s parking area on Delhi’s Raisina Road.

Sana also alleged that he paid 25 lakh on October 10, 2018, and 25,000 dirhams (around 5 lakh) and 30,000 dirhams (around 6 lakh) to Manoj Prasad in Dubai around the same time.

Get Latest India Newsalong with Latest Newsand Top Headlinesfrom India and around the world.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
My Offers
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Sunday, October 02, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Register Free and get Exciting Deals