NEW DELHI: The fratricidal war within the CBI showed no signs of abating on Tuesday with the agency’s chief Alok Verma withdrawing all cases being probed by his No 2, Rakesh Asthana, including big ones like those against Vijay Mallya, Lalu Prasad Yadav, P Chidambaram and the Agusta deal. For Asthana, a special director in the CBI, it was a mixed day, as he got the Delhi High Court’s protection from arrest after the CBI itself had filed an FIR alleging corruption against him.Justice Najmi Waziri directed the CBI not to take any coercive action against Asthana till October 29. “Don’t disturb the equilibrium till then,” the court said.
The court, however, refused to grant a stay on the investigation saying the allegations were of serious nature. It assured Asthana’s lawyer Amarendra Sharan not to worry while directing Asthana to ensure the safety of all electronic records pertaining to the case. Sharan had urged the court to quash the case against Asthana saying it was registered in an illegal manner with malafide intention.The CBI rebutted saying the charges against Asthana were serious. Later in the day, it added fresh charges of extortion and forgery to the FIR, which names Asthana as the first accused.
The FIR was filed on October 15 based on the complaint of a Hyderabad-based businessman Sathish Sana, who is involved in another corruption case related to meat exporter Moin Qureshi. On Monday, Deputy SP Devender Kumar, Asthana’s team member, was arrested for allegedly faking Sana’s statement.
The special director’s counsel also told the court that prior sanction was necessary for initiating a probe against a serving officer under Section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act but no such permission was issued by the competent authority - the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).
The CBI has sought time to file a detailed reply. The court also asked DoPT and CBI Director Alok Verma to file their response.
Meanwhile, a special court sent Kumar to seven-day CBI remand. The CBI suspended him following his arrest. Besides Asthana and Kumar, two middlemen Manoj Prasad and Somesh Prasad, have been named as accused in the case.The FIR is widely being read as Verma revenge against Asthana for complaining that his boss was derailing his probes. Asthana’s complaint is pending before the CVC.