A special court in Delhi on Saturday while taking cognisance of the charge sheet filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) concurred with the findings of India’s apex Investigative agency that there was no “sufficient ground” against Former Special CBI Director, Rakesh Asthana and DSP Devender Kumar in the CBI vs CBI case.
The Special Judge, Sanjeev Agarwal, noted, “We will see if anything comes in the future investigation being conducted by the CBI.” The court observed that since the investigation is ongoing, therefore, the duo can be summoned whenever there is substantial material against them.
A case against Rakesh Asthana was registered by the CBI on October 15, 2018, after a complaint was filed by a Hyderabad based businessman named Satish Babu Sana. He was being probed by Asthana in a money laundering case involving meat exporter, Moin Qureshi. Satish had alleged that the former Special CBI Director accepted a bribe from him in exchange for ensuring relief in the case.
Both Asthana and Devendra Kumar were arrested in 2018 but was released on bail. They were placed in Column 12 of the charge sheet since “there was not enough evidence to make them an accused”.
Summons were also issued to “middleman” Manoj Prasad, his brother Someshvar Prasad and father-in-law Sunil Mittal. The Court found “sufficient grounds to proceed” against the trio. The case will be pursued under Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) read with 420 (cheating), 385 (extortion) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 7 (expecting to be a public servant) and 8 (taking gratification) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Asthana earlier accused Former CBI Director Alok Verma of falsely implicating him in the bribery case. When the infighting became public, the Central Government had sent both the officers on leave.
A Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) report had earlier revealed that Alok Verma had “clear prejudice and bias” against Asthana. This conclusion was based on a finding that Verma had prepared forged documents to block Rakesh Asthana’s appointment as CBI special director in 2017.
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge had argued that the CVC report lacked “substantial findings” against Verma. He also said Alok Verma’s tenure should be extended since he lost 77 days after being “illegally’ transferred”. Kharge also demanded that an “independent inquiry” into the removal of Alok Verma.
Kharge had also brought up the Rafale bogey to say that Alok Verma was ousted because he wanted to “investigate” the Rafale deal which got a clean chit by the Supreme Court. However, this bogey was useless, considering the CBI cannot investigate defence deals unless the Court or the Government orders one.