The infighting between the two topmost officials of the Central Bureau of Investigation – chief Alok Verma and his second in command Special Director Rakesh Asthana – has reached the public domain. On Monday it got a political twist, with the Congress President Rahul Gandhi accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of using the CBI for political vendatta.
Here is all you need to know about the case
- CBI filed an First Information Report (FIR) against its Special Director Rakesh Asthana alleging that he took a bribe.
- Asthana drew up a list of cases against Director Alok Verma and other top CBI officials according to Hindustan Times. Asthana has apparently listed a dozen charges, double the number that the CBI has him docked for.
- Verma is reportedly considering writing to the government for Asthana’s removal as his position in the agency is ‘untenable’.
- The CBI’s FIR against Rakesh Asthana is based on the claims of Sathish Sana, a Hyderabad-based businessman, who is under investigation for connections with meat exporter Moin Qureshi, an accused in money-laundering cases.
- Sathish Sana has alleged that he was asked to pay a bribe of Rs 5 crore to Asthana, officer heading the Special Investigation Team (SIT), to be rid of the case. Manoj Prasad, an investment banker based in Dubai, was allegedly the middleman who asked him to pay this bribe. Manoj Prasad was arrested on October 16 when he was returning from Dubai to allegedly collect an installment of the agreed bribe amount.
- The CBI claims to have analysed nine phone calls immediately after the arrest, which, it says, shows panic after Manoj Prasad’s brother learnt of his arrest. The calls were allegedly exchanged between Asthana and a senior officer of another intelligence agency, who wanted to confirm details of the arrest.
- Nowhere in the statement has Sathish Sana mentioned any direct meeting, interaction or payment of bribe to Asthana. But the CBI says Sathish Sana told a magistrate that he had paid Rs 2 crore as bribe to Asthana over a 10 month period from December last year.
- In a complaint to the government in August, however, Rakesh Asthana alleged that it was the CBI chief who took that bribe in the case of Moin Qureshi, who is being investigated for allegedly channeling illegal money through Dubai, London, and other places in Europe.
- Asthana also alleged he was framed for preventing Sathish Sama from skipping the country and pressing him to cooperate with the investigation.
- The CBI infighting started last year when Director Alok Verma objected to the appointment of Asthana, a Gujarat cadre officer, as he was under investigation in the Sterling Biotech case.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi over Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filing a complaint on its own Special Director Rakesh Asthana in an alleged bribery case.
Gandhi said that the investigative agency has become a weapon of ‘political vendetta’ under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership.
“The PM’s blue-eyed boy, Gujarat cadre officer, of Godra SIT fame, infiltrated as No. 2 into the CBI, has now been caught taking bribes. Under this PM, the CBI is a weapon of political vendetta. An institution in terminal decline that’s at war with itself,” Rahul Gandhi tweeted.
The PM’s blue-eyed boy, Gujarat cadre officer, of Godra SIT fame, infiltrated as No. 2 into the CBI, has now been caught taking bribes. Under this PM, the CBI is a weapon of political vendetta. An institution in terminal decline that’s at war with itself. https://t.co/Z8kx41kVxX
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) October 22, 2018
The CBI has also registered a case against others, including a Deputy Superintendent of Police in its SIT, under sections pertaining to Prevention of Corruption Act.