CBI vs CBI: Major relief for bribery-accused Rakesh Asthana, court accepts clean chit
The CBI special court at Rouse Avenue Complex on Saturday accepted the central investigation agency’s clean chit to former special director Rakesh Asthana and DSP Devender Kumar, while taking cognizance of the CBI’s chargesheet against Manoj Prasad.
Special CBI Judge Sanjeev Aggarwal said in his order there wasn’t sufficient material against public servants - Rakesh Asthana and Devender Kumar.
The court order is a major relief for Rakesh Asthana, who has claimed since day one that a “fabricated” FIR was filed against him at the behest of Alok Verma.
The court has taken cognizance of charges for cheating, criminal conspiracy and Section 8 of the PC Act against Manoj Prasad and Somesh Prasad, who was not named as accused. Somesh Prasad was not named in the chargesheet but now he too has been summoned as an accused. Manoj Prasad, however, was named as an accused in the chargesheet.
Former CBI special director Rakesh Asthana was booked on allegations of criminal conspiracy, corruption and criminal misconduct under the relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act (PC Act) on October 15, 2018. A day later, Dubai resident Manoj Prasad, who was in Delhi, was arrested while DSP Devender Kumar was taken into custody almost a week later.
The Central Bureau of Investigation filed a chargesheet on February 11, 2020 against Manoj Prasad, while giving a clean chit to Asthana and Devender Kumar. Asthana, currently, the head of Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) and Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), has maintained throughout that the ‘fabricated’ FIR against him was planned by Verma after he exposed the CBI director’s corrupt activities before the Cabinet Secretary in August of the same year.
Asthana had informed the CVC and the government that Alok Verma had taken Rs 2 crore from Sathish Babu Sana.
The FIR stated that Manoj Prasad told Sana about his “good connections” in the CBI and that his brother Somesh would help him get out of the Moin Qureshi case, being investigated by SIT led by Asthana since 2017.
Sana further claimed when he met Somesh in Dubai, he was told that Asthana will surely do the work as he (Somesh) managed officer’s investments in Dubai and London for the past many years.
The businessman added he saw Asthana’s photo on Somesh’s WhatsApp and paid the first installment of Rs 1 crore to Manoj in Dubai, and later Rs 1.95 crore to Manoj’s contact Sunil Mittal on December 12, 2017, in the Press Club of India’s parking area at Delhi’s Raisina Road.
Sana also alleged that he paid Rs 25 lakh on October 10, 2018, and 25,000 dirhams (around Rs 500,000) and 30,000 dirhams (around Rs 600,000) to Manoj in Dubai around the same time.
While he was in Dubai in December 2017, he claims, Somesh also made him listen to conversations of two CBI officers on the phone, and one of the voices was that of Asthana.
Saturday’s court’s order accepting the clean chit means there is no investigation pending against Asthana or Kumar anymore.