New Delhi: In a petition filed before the Supreme Court, CBI deputy inspector general MK Sinha, who led an investigation against the agency’s number two officer Rakesh Asthana, has claimed that National Security Adviser Ajit Doval interfered in the investigations against CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana and even created hindrances in a search to be carried out at Asthana’s residence, according to reports.
He also alleged that a Union minister of state took “a few crores” as bribe to intervene on behalf of a businessman on the agency’s radar.
Sinha, who has petitioned the court against his transfer to Nagpur after last month’s midnight removal of CBI boss Alok Verma, told the court on Monday that he had “documents that will shock the court”. He said his transfer was aimed at “changing the course of the investigation” and help Rakesh Asthana.
Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi declined an early hearing to a petition by Sinha. “Nothing shocks us,” Chief Justice Gogoi shot back, without going into the merits of the case.
Sinha investigated allegations that Rakesh Asthana, the CBI number two, had taken bribe to help a Hyderabad-based businessman, Satish Sana, linked to an investigation. Sana is a co-accused in multiple cases being investigated against meat exporter Moin Qureshi, who is accused of money laundering. Rakesh Asthana had alleged that Sana had bribed CBI Director Alok Verma. Sinha alleged that the two middlemen involved in the case were close to Doval.
He said that the complainant in the case, businessman Sana Sathish Babu, had told him that Union Minister of State for Coal and Mines Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhari had been paid bribes to the tune of several crores of rupees for alleged help in matters related to the CBI. An MP from Gujarat, Chaudhari is known to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The petition has also said that surveillance had stumbled upon a conversation involving R&AW officer Samant Goel, where he was heard saying that “the PMO had managed the CBI issue”, and that same night the entire CBI team probing the Asthana case was removed.
Sinha has also claimed that Sana Sathish Babu had met Central Vigilance Commissioner KV Chowdhary in the Moin Qureshi matter and that Union Law Secretary Suresh Chandra had contacted him (Sana) on November 11—while the Supreme Court-mandated CVC probe into the CBI battle was going on—and tried to influence him.
“The Union Law Secretary Suresh Chandra said that he was in London for some work related to Nirav Modi case, that he was trying to contact him (Sana) for last 4/5 days in order to convey message of Cabinet Secretary PK Sinha that the Union Government will offer full protection to him, that there will be a drastic change on Tuesday (13th) and that he (Sana) should meet him (Suresh Chandra) on Wednesday(14th),” the CBI officer claims.
In his petition, Sinha has said, “As per Manoj Prasad (the middleman arrested in the case against Asthana), Shri Dineshwar Prasad, father of Manoj and Somesh, retired as Joint Secretary, R&AW and has close acquaintance with the present National Security Advisor Shri Ajit K. Doval (“NSA”). This was one of the first things Manoj claimed on being brought to CBI HQ and expressed complete surprise and anger as to how CBI could pick him up, despite his close links with the NSA Shri Doval.”
According to the petition, Prasad claimed that recently “his brother Somesh and Samant Goel, helped the NSA Shri Ajit Doval on an important personal matter”.
The Supreme Court has already taken up a batch of petitions on the bitter war within the agency, beginning with a petition filed by the exiled CBI boss Alok Verma against the government order sending him on compulsory leave.
Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana were stripped of their responsibilities on October 23 after their running feud threw the federal agency into disarray. Asthana had written to the cabinet secretary on August 24, alleging interference by Verma in sensitive cases and claimed that the director had taken a bribe. The cabinet secretary then asked CVC to look into the matter.