NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed the CBI not to take any coercive action against Pradeep Koneru, a witness in the meat exporter and alleged hawala dealer Moin Akhtar Qureshi case.
Justices Siddharth Mridul and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal's direction came while hearing Koneru's plea who apprehended he might be made an accused in the case.
Seeking a response from the CBI and asking Koneru to cooperate, the court set the next hearing on March 19. Koneru told the court that two agencies -- the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate -- were investigating the case.
While the ED has arrayed him as a witness, the CBI has been trying to make him an accused. Both probe agencies have alleged that Qureshi had "extorted" Rs 7.5 crore from two businessmen -- Pradeep Koneru and Sathish Sana -- on the pretext of helping them in their pending court cases using his influence.
Sathish Sana's name came up in the case when Special Director Rakesh Asthana has written letter to Central Vigilance Commission said that Sana paid a bribe of two crore to get relief in the case.
The ED said that Qureshi even dropped the names of former CBI Directors Ranjit Sinha and A.P. Singh before the businessmen.
The present case had escalated a fight between CBI's former chief Alok Verma and former Special Director Rakesh Asthana who accused each other of taking bribes.
Verma was finally removed as CBI chief while the government has curtailed Asthana's tenure in the CBI as Special Director, and appointed him as the new Director General of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS).