Acted against Asthana for CBI’s integrity, says Verma
NEW DELHI: CBI director Alok Kumar Verma on Friday explained to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) that when in October last year he first handed the CVC a secret note detailing allegations of corruption against his deputy Rakesh Asthana, his objective had been to maintain the “organisational integrity” of the agency, an official familiar with the matter said.
Verma explained his position during an examination by the CVC, which summoned him in connection with charges of corruption that Asthana has levelled against him.
“During an hour-long interaction with CVC KV Chowdary and two vigilance commissioners – Sharad Kumar and TM Bhasin – Verma said maintaining the organisational integrity of the CBI was the only motive for all decisions he took from October last year,” the official cited above said on condition of anonymity.
“Former Supreme Court judge AK Patnaik, who is supervising the inquiry, was also present during the examination. It was a conversational examination where the director explained the rationale behind his decisions,” he added.
Director Verma and Asthana, special director, were divested of their responsibilities last month after engaging in an unprecedented public feud in which they traded allegations of corruption against each other.
Verma and Asthana didn’t reply to calls and messages sent by HT. Chief vigilance commissioner KV Chowdary too didn’t respond to a call and message.
The feud at the top in the CBI came into the open in October last year when a panel led by Chowdary, with two vigilance commissioners and secretaries in the ministries of home and personnel as its members, was considering a proposal to promote Asthana from additional director to special director.
At a meeting of the panel, Verma handed over a note claiming that Asthana was under the scanner in a corruption case registered by the CBI against the Gujarat-based Sandesara group. The note purportedly contained details of payments written in a diary that was recovered by the income tax department during its searches at the premises of the Sandesara group in 2011.
The tax department asked the CBI to probe the diary because it also contained details of payments purported to have been made to some income tax officials, too.
The CBI had registered a first information report (FIR) on the matter in August last year. During investigations, the CBI found that there was a mention of Asthana too in the diary. There were a few entries that showed the Sandesara group was paying monthly rent to Asthana for a house in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. Asthana is a Gujarat cadre officer of the 1984 batch.
The diary also purportedly contained a few other entries that showed payments to the tune of ₹3.8 crore had been made to an entity identified as “RA”.
CBI DIRECTOR APPEARS BEFORE CENTRAL VIGILANCE COMMISSION; VERMA AND ASTHANA WERE DIVESTED OF THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES LAST MONTH