As India’s premier investigating agency, the CBI handles all high profile cases. It;s job to ensure a fair and impartial probe. But in recent days, the agency has been in the news all the wrong reasons.
Two of the top officials of the agency, Director Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana are involved in a major feud that has forced the government to intervene. Both officers been sent on leave with the government claiming that the decision was taken to restore the institutional integrity and credibility of CBI.
We take a look that the reasons trigger differences between the two senior most CBI officers.
The government actions against the two CBI officers came after a high voltage drama in the Delhi High Court. Special director Rakesh Asthana sought quashing of charges against him as well as protection from arrest while CBI alleged that an extortion racket have been going in the garb of the investigating high-profile cases.
In this article, Let’s look at genesis of the current crisis –
Amid grave allegations of corruption against senior functionaries of CBI, the government stepped in and appointed M. Nageswar Rao as the interim chief of the investigating agency with immediate effect. CBI director Alok Verma and special director Rakesh Asthana was sent on leave. Thy would also divested of all powers amid ongoing spat.
Finance minister Arun Jaitly said the government’s decision to remove Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana was based on the recommendations of the Chief Vigilance Commission (CVC) asserting that it was essential to restore the CBI’s institutional integrity and credibility. The finance minister said that CVC receive details of the charges that both officers leveled against each other. According to him, the CVC recommended that accused of potential accuse can not be allowed to be encharge of the investigation against them. Jaitly clarified that the government had no role into the matter. A special investigation team will look into charges and both officers will sit out duration of the probe.
VERMA vs. ASTHANA –
- Spat first of its kind in CBI’s history.
- Alok Verma reportedly objected to Rakesh Asthana’s elevation as special director of CBI before the CVC.
- Although the objections were noted.the commission in unanimous decision cleared Asthan’s promotion.
- PIL by NGO Common Cause against the decision also rejected by Supreme Court.
- Rakesh Asthana who was encharge in Special Investigation Team handling sensitive cases including those related to Vijay Malya, Augusta Westland and land acquisition in Haryana filed a complain against Alok on 24th August alleging that he took a bribe of 2 crore rupees from an accused investigated by him.
- Asthana alleged that there are about 10 more cases of alleged corruption and irregularities against Verma.
- Asthana alleged Verma tried to stop raids on Lalu Yadav.
- The matter was referred by the government to the CVC which sought files of cases mentioned on Asthana’s complaint.
- In his response, Verma told CVC that Asthana’s role was under probe in at least 6 cases including one related to loan default by Gujarat based Sterling Biotech.
- Verma told CVC that Asthana can’t represent in panel meetings, his absence.
- Asthana urged government to intervene, sought independent probe into allegations leveled by Verma.
Escalating Feud –
- OCTOBER 15TH : CBI registered FIR against Rakesh Asthana for allegedly taking a bribe from an accused in lieu of ensuring relief.
- Case filed on statement of alleged bribe giver – Satish Sana.
- Sana facing probe in separate case of bribery involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi.
- CBI also arrested Devender Kumar, a deputy SP in Rakesh Asthana’s team.
- Asthana’s complaint against Alok Verma two months ago leeged that Satish Sana paid Alok Verma Rs. 2 crore to get relief.
- Rakesh Asthana approaches Delhi High Court seeking quashing the agency’s FIR against him.
- Delhi High Court directed CBI to maintain status quo on criminal proceedings initiated against Asthana till October 29th.
– Abhay Tiwari