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War at the top in CBI: Fresh probe against spl director Asthana

CBI chief Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana have been feuding with each other for the last one year. Asthana has accused Verma of interfering in investigations carried out under his supervision and made a formal complaint to the cabinet secretary.

india Updated: Oct 21, 2018 16:45 IST
Rajesh Ahuja
Rajesh Ahuja
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Rakesh Asthana,CBI,CBI probe
CBI is probing whether its special director Rakesh Asthana accepted a bribe through a middleman.(HT File Photo)

In the latest episode in a battle at the top in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the agency is probing whether its special director Rakesh Asthana accepted a bribe through a middleman to scuttle an investigation against a Hyderabad-based businessman, a government official familiar with the matter said requesting anonymity.

A special secretary in the external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and a retired 1984 batch Indian Police Service officer, too, are under the scanner in this connection. The two have not been formally named as accused in the first information report (FIR) registered in the case, a second person familiar with the development said. Asthana too has not been formally named as an accused, the government official cited in the first instance said.

The Hyderabad-based businessman, Sana Satish Babu, is a suspect in a case registered by the CBI against controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi and former agency chief AP Singh.

The CBI declined to comment on the development. Neither the CBI director nor Asthana replied to HT’s phone calls in this regard.

CBI chief Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana have been feuding with each other for the last one year. Asthana has accused Verma of 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 to look into his representation.

The CBI in a formal statement on September 21, said the special director was being probed in six different cases being investigated by the agency.

“There is an FIR registered by the CBI in this regard,” said the government official cited above.

In February, 2017, the CBI had registered an FIR against Qureshi on charges of having a nexus with the agency’s former chief AP Singh for settling CBI cases. He was accused by the agency of criminal conspiracy and taking bribes to influence a public servant.

“Sana Satish Babu is a suspect in the case registered against Moin Qureshi and AP Singh and the probe in the case is being supervised by special director Rakesh Asthana. Asthana, in his complaint to the Central Vigilance Commission, has accused CBI director Alok Verma of trying to help Sana Satish Babu.

Asthana had filed the complaint before registration of the FIR in this regard,” said a CBI official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The person familiar with the development cited above said Satish Babu is now accused the complainant in the FIR filed by the CBI in this regard.

“It has been alleged that Sana Satish Babu struck a deal for ₹5 crore with an alleged middleman, Manoj Prasad, to scuttle the probe against him. The CBI is probing whether Prasad was acting on behalf of Asthana,” said the person.

First Published: Oct 21, 2018 16:39 IST