CBI officer Bassi moves SC against transfer and Asthana

Says transfer to Andaman and Nicobar Islands was mala fide and derailed a sensitive probe

New Delhi: Amid ongoing turmoil in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), agency officer AK Bassi, who was investigating corruption allegations against Special Director Rakesh Asthana, on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court claiming that he had “incriminating” evidence against Asthana.

Bassi also challenged his transfer last week to Andaman and Nicobar Islands. He said his transfer was mala fide and derailed “a sensitive probe”.

“The allegations against CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana are grave. Illegal gratification amounted to Rs30 million was given on 10th and 13th December 2017 to Aathana after which the summons stopped to businessman Sathish Sana. However, there was pressure to pay remaining Rs20 million as part of a deal. This is evidenced in Whatsapp messages,” Bassi said in his application in the top court.

According to CBI’s First Information Report (FIR) last month, Prasad, an investment banker based in the Gulf, was hired by businessman Sana to pay the bribe of Rs50 million to Asthana to get rid of a corruption case against him.

On October 16, middleman Prasad was arrested by CBI’s Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) when he came to India to deliver the agreed bribe amount.

Later, CBI named Asthana and another agency officer Devender Kumar in the bribery case related to Sana, whose name had incidentally emerged during investigation in the ongoing case involving controversial Uttar Pradesh-based meat exporter Moin Qureshi.

“Sathish Sana’s contact Manoj Prasad once again intervened and sought relief against further summons for payment of Rs20 million. Rs2.5 million was paid on October 1, 2018 and there were no further summons till date,” Bassi stated in his petition.

The top court said it will look into the matter.

Taking note of the infighting in CBI, the government had last week divested Asthana and agency Director Alok Verma of all duties and appointed M Nageshwar Rao as interim chief. Also Bassi was transferred to Andamans.

Verma and Asthana have accused each other of taking bribe in an investigation involving Qureshi.

In August, Asthana had alleged that it was Verma who took the bribe of Rs20 million from Sana.

He had also complained to Cabinet Secretary and Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) accusing Verma of trying to interfere in a corruption case involving family members of Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad Yadav.


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