CBI-Rakesh Asthana case: Hyderabad-based businessman Sathish Babu Sana had complained that he met several middlemen in New Delhi and Dubai.
Five years after the Supreme Court termed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) a caged parrot, the premier investigating agency is facing a situation that could erode its credibility. Special Director of CBI Rakesh Asthana, the second in command at CBI, has been booked by the agency for allegedly taking bribes in a case involving controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi.
What is the case?
On August 24, Asthana shot off a letter to the Cabinet Secretary. In the letter, Asthana accused CBI director Alok Verma of receiving a bribe of Rs 2 crore in a case that involves meat exporter Moin Qureshi. Subsequently, the matter was handed over to the Central Vigilance Commission which is still probing it. The allegations and counter allegations went on between groups led by Asthana and Verma. In a first-of-its-kind case, Asthana was charged under criminal conspiracy, corruption and criminal misconduct. Apart from Asthana, Deputy Superintendent of Police Devender Kumar, Manoj Prasad and Somesh Prasad, the purported middlemen, and other unknown officials were booked under Section 13 (2) read with Section 13(1)(d) (criminal misconduct) of Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 7 (public servant taking gratification other than legal remuneration in respect of an official act) .
The role of Hyderabad-based businessman
Hyderabad-based businessman Sathish Babu Sana had complained that he met several middlemen in New Delhi and Dubai. An investment banker Manoj Prasad had assured him that he would get relief from CBI summons if he agrees to pay Rs 5 crore as bribe, according to a statement given by Sana before a magistrate under Section 164 of Criminal Procedure Code on October 4 and October 16. Sana also claimed that Prasad assured him that his brother Somesh looks after investments of Asthana in London. The Anti-corruption unit of the CBI registered the FIR based on these claims as the statement recorded before the magistrate are considered a confessional statement and the probing agency has the rights to file a perjury case. Prasad was arrested by the agency on October 16. Sana, however, mentioned in his statement that he did not meet Asthana.
Who is Rakesh Asthana? What was his involvement?
Rakesh Asthana, the number 2 in the CBI hierarchy, is Gujarat-cadre IPS officer. He was the head of the Special Investigating Team of CBI. This team probed high-profile cases such as AgustaWestland chopper scam and loan fraud by business tycoon Vijay Mallya. The team has been investigating the Moin Qureshi case. According to PTI report, Asthana in the letter to the Cabinet Secretary had mentioned about 10 instances of alleged corruption by Verma. Asthana claimed that Sana paid the CBI chief Rs 2 crore to get a clean chit in the case.
What is Moin Qureshi case?
The controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in 2017. However, he was granted bail by a court in Delhi. CBI also launched a probe against Qureshi for alleged tax evasion, money laundering and corruption.
RAW official also under the scanner
The FIR against Asthana also features Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) Special Director Samant Kumar Goel. However, he was not named as an accused. As per the FIR, Goel’s role in the case remains under investigation by the CBI, as per Indian Express report.