How the CBI feud between chief Alok Verma and deputy Rakesh Asthana unfolded
Hindustan Times chronicles the key developments in the bitter saga between CBI director Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana.
The feud now playing out in public between the two top officers of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), its director Alok Verma and special director Rakesh Asthana, first came into the public domain in October last year when the former tried to stall the latter’s promotion to his current post, although it had been simmering even before Verma took over as the chief of the federal investigation agency on February 1, 2017.
Hindustan Times chronicles the key developments in the bitter saga, which on Tuesday entered what seems to be the end game when Asthana approached the Delhi high court against the filing of a bribery case against him by the agency .
In his petition, Asthana sought a directive from the high court that no coercive action be taken against him. On the same day, the agency presented before special CBI judge Santosh Snehi Mann, deputy superintendent of police Devendra Kumar, arrested in connection with the bribery case against Asthana. It claimed that Kumar, who was arrested on Monday, was part of an extortion racket being run in the garb of an investigation.
Asthana has accused Verma of attempting to induct tainted officers into the agency and interfering in investigations carried out under his supervision and made a formal complaint to the cabinet secretary. The cabinet secretary has asked the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to look into his representation.
CBI, in a formal statement on September 21, said the special director was being probed in six different cases being investigated by the agency.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told CBI chief, Verma, to “let the law take its own course” when the latter briefed him on the allegations against Asthana, an official familiar with the development said on Monday.
CBI expanded its probe into the case on Monday by arresting Kumar. Investigators are preparing to question two supervisory officers — one of superintendent of police rank and the other of inspector general — in the case.
The agency will also seek a clarification from a senior intelligence official who investigators suspect may have been acting in his “individual capacity”.
“Director Verma separately met national security adviser Ajit Doval too,” said the CBI official cited above, on condition of anonymity.
The Prime Minister’s Office did not offer any comment on the meeting. But a senior official confirmed that the PM met the CBI chief.
The bribery case against Asthana has been registered on a complaint by a Hyderabad-based businessman, Sana Satish Babu, who alleged that two 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 Rs 5 crore to protect him (Babu) in a case that the agency registered against controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi last year.
Former CBI director AP Singh is also an accused in the case. Two months before the registration of the case, Asthana complained to cabinet secretary Pradeep Sinha that it was Verma who asked him in February to call off the questioning of the Hyderabad-based businessman.
Asthana alleged that Satish Babu was being protected by Verma under a Rs 2 crore deal. The cabinet secretary forwarded this complaint to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC). Asthana cited nine other instances in which he alleged that Verma and agency joint director Arun Kumar Sharma were trying to interfere in investigations with ulterior motives.
CBI has formally denied the charges against Verma and Sharma.
The agency has now named Satish Babu as a witness in the case against Qureshi. Asthana wrote to the CVC that he recommended Satish Babu’s arrest in the case in September . After the registration of the FIR against Asthana, CBI arrested the alleged middleman in the case, Manoj Prasad, who is in the agency’s custody.
On Monday, CBI named Kumar as an accused in the case on charges of fabricating records. Kumar was the designated investigation officer in the case against Qureshi.