IPS Mo­hit Gupta to head probe against Rakesh Asthana

Financial Chronicle - - FUNDAMENTALS, POLITICS -

RE­IN­STATED CBI chief Alok Verma Thursday ap­pointed SP-ranked IPS of­fi­cer Mo­hit Gupta to probe the agency's Spe­cial Di­rec­tor Rakesh Asthana but did not make any changes in su­per­vi­sory of­fi­cers, soon af­ter Deputy In­spec­tor Gen­eral MK Sinha re­quested to re­cuse him­self from tak­ing charge of the case, of­fi­cials said.

Verma, who joined back af­ter hav­ing been re­in­stated by the Supreme Court on Wednesday, had is­sued orders can­celling all the trans­fers ef­fected by in­terim chief M Nageswar Rao.

A 1979-batch AGMUT cadre IPS of­fi­cer, Verma is­sued fresh orders on Thursday ac­cord­ing to which V Mu­ruge­san will con­tinue to hold the post of Joint Di­rec­tor of Anti Cor­rup­tion Unit-III, which is prob­ing the case against Asthana.

Af­ter Sinha sought to re­cuse him­self, the CBI chief asked Deputy In­spec­tor Gen­eral Tarun Gauba to con­tinue su­per­vis­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tions of the unit prob­ing Asthana, who was sent on leave by the govern­ment along with Verma on Oc­to­ber 23 last year. Both Gauba and Mu­ruge­san were ap­pointed by M Nagesh­war Rao to su­per­vise the case when he was ap­pointed as in­terim di­rec­tor by the govern­ment.

Gupta, a 2006-batch Ut­tar Pradesh-cadre IPS of­fi­cer who is head­ing the Ghazi­abad unit of the agency, has been ap­pointed as the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of­fi­cer of the case, of­fi­cials privy to the devel­op­ment told PTI on con­di­tion of anonymity. He will be third in­ves­ti­ga­tion of­fi­cer of the case against Asthana re­plac­ing Satish Da­gar who was sent to Eco­nomic Of­fences Wing af­ter Wednesday's orders. Da­gar was brought in by Rao to re­place DSP AK Bassi and Ad­di­tional SP SS Gurm when he was made in­terim chief.

In a fresh reshuf­fle or­dered by Verma, who re­sumed duty on Wednesday af­ter 77-day-long forced leave, DIG MK Sinha has now been given the charge of Anti-Cor­rup­tion Unit-I along with bank­ing, se­cu­ri­ties and frauds cell. Ear­lier Sinha was to join the ACIII but he sought to re­cuse him­self to pre­vent any prej­u­dice from creep­ing in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion in the wake of re­cent feud be­tween Verma and Asthana, the of­fi­cials said. DIG Sinha is un­der­stood to have con­veyed to the CBI di­rec­tor that in the in­ter­est of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion he may not be handed over the probe, they said.

Joint Di­rec­tor AK Sharma, who was over­all in-charge of the probe against Asthana be­fore Verma was sent on leave in Oc­to­ber, will su­per­vise the work of Anti-Cor­rup­tion Unit-I, which han­dles sen­si­tive cor­rup­tion cases re­lated to de­fence deals among oth­ers.

Sinha, who had de­ci­phered money trail of bribery al­legedly in­volv­ing Asthana, was trans­ferred to Nagpur a day af­ter Rao took charge on Oc­to­ber 23, 2018 af­ter the govern­ment sent Verma and Asthana on forced leave through a con­tro­ver­sial or­der. The or­der was over­turned by the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

A CBI di­rec­tor en­joys a min­i­mum fixed ten­ure of two years given by the top court through the Vi­neet Narayan judge­ment.

Verma who re­sumed du­ties on the orders of the Supreme Court, which set aside the or­der send­ing him on forced leave, with­drew most of the trans­fer orders, in­clud­ing that of Sinha, taken by Rao in his ab­sence.

Af­ter be­ing trans­ferred, Sinha had ap­proached the apex court through an ex­plo­sive af­fi­davit with damn­ing claims about how of­fi­cials at the very top of the govern­ment were al­legedly in­ter­fer­ing in the CBI probe against Asthana.

In his 34-page pe­ti­tion, Sinha, a 2000-batch IPS of­fi­cer from Andhra Pradesh cadre, had al­leged that the CBI di­rec­tor briefed NSA Ajit Do­val on Oc­to­ber 17 about reg­is­tra­tion of a case against Asthana.

Sinha, while supporting the af­fi­davit of Deputy Su­per­in­ten­dent of Po­lice of­fi­cer AK Bassi, who was also trans­ferred to An­daman and Ni­co­bar Is­lands, claimed Bassi favoured im­me­di­ate search of pub­lic ser­vants in­volved in the bribery case (re­lat­ing to Asthana) but the "di­rec­tor CBI did not give im­me­di­ate per­mis­sion and re­verted that the NSA has not per­mit­ted the same".

The CBI had booked Asthana on al­le­ga­tions of re­ceiv­ing bribe from an ac­cused, Manoj Prasad, probed by him in a case linked to meat ex­porter Moin Qureshi. Sinha had said, dur­ing in­ter­ro­ga­tion of Manoj Prasad, who was ar­rested in the bribery case al­legedly in­volv­ing Asthana, the names of Do­val and Sa­mant Ku­mar Goel, the spe­cial di­rec­tor of In­dia's ex­ter­nal in­tel­li­gence agency (R&AW) cropped up.

IPS Gupta was ap­pointed af­ter DIG MK Sinha re­cused him­self from the case to pre­vent any prej­u­dice from creep­ing in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion in the wake of re­cent feud be­tween his bosses Verma and Asthana

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