Centre cuts short tenure of CBI special director Rakesh Asthana, three officers | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Centre cuts short tenure of CBI special director Rakesh Asthana, three officers

New Delhi | ByHT Correspondent
Jan 17, 2019 08:23 PM IST

CBI special director Rakesh Asthana’s exit comes days before the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led selection panel is to decide on the agency’s next full-time boss.

Rakesh Asthana, who was once seen to be in line for the CBI director’s post, was moved out of the investigating agency on Thursday evening, capping a bitter tug of war between Asthana and his ex-boss who was sacked this month, Alok Verma.

The Delhi high court had earlier refused to quash a bribery and extortion complaint registered by the CBI against the agency’s special director Rakesh Asthana.(Arun Sharma/HT File Photo)
The Delhi high court had earlier refused to quash a bribery and extortion complaint registered by the CBI against the agency’s special director Rakesh Asthana.(Arun Sharma/HT File Photo)

A government order said Asthana’s tenure at the CBI was being curtailed. The same order also named three more CBI officers who were being shown the door.

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Joint Director Arun Kumar Sharma and Deputy Inspector General Manish Kumar Sinha, who were seen to be close to Alok Verma and had investigated Asthana were also removed. A Superintendent of Police-rank officer Jayant J Naiknavare has also been sent out of the agency.

Asthana’s exit comes days before the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led selection panel is to decide on the agency’s next full-time boss. M Nageswara Rao has been heading the investigating agency as an interim measure, triggering howls of protest from the Congress which alleged the government did not want a CBI chief who could act independently.

Last week, Alok Verma, the first director of the agency to be removed by a PM-led panel, refused to take up his next assignment and resigned from service. Verma, who was not allowed to represent before the three-member committee, said “natural justice was scuttled and the entire process was turned upside down in ensuring that the undersigned is removed from the post of the Director”.

Verma and Asthana had been engaged in an internecine battle that roiled the agency and almost split it down the middle. The government had cited this rivalry to defend its decision to send both officers on leave.

In a ruling on January 12, the Delhi high court refused to quash a bribery and extortion complaint registered by the CBI against Asthana in October, saying the allegations against him “cannot be conclusively ruled out at this stage.”

Both Verma and Asthana were stripped of their powers on the intervening night of October 23-24 after they accused each other of corruption in a feud that became increasingly public, splitting the CBI down the middle. Verma was conditionally reinstated by the Supreme Court on Tuesday but removed from the agency again on Thursday.

The CBI booked Asthana on October 15 on the basis of a complaint by businessman Sana Satish Babu. Babu had been facing a probe in a 2017 case of tax evasion and money laundering involving controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi.

Babu alleged that Dubai-based brothers Manoj Prasad and Somesh Prasad claimed that they were acting on behalf of the CBI special director and allegedly struck a deal for 5 crore to protect him (Babu) in a case that the agency registered against Qureshi in 2016.

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