Acted against Asthana for CBI’S in­tegrity, says Verma

Hindustan Times (Bathinda) - - Front Page - Ra­jesh Ahuja ra­jesh.ahuja@hin­dus­tan­times.com ■

CBI DI­REC­TOR AP­PEARS BE­FORE CEN­TRAL VIG­I­LANCE COM­MIS­SION; VERMA AND ASTHANA WERE DI­VESTED OF THEIR RE­SPON­SI­BIL­I­TIES LAST MONTH

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”.

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