A Delhi court was informed Friday that there were “clinching evidence” against former CBI special director Rakesh Asthana in a bribery case in which he was recently given a clean chit by the agency.
Special CBI judge Sanjeev Aggarwal was told by Ajay Kumar Bassi, the former investigating officer (IO) in the case, that the current IO, Satish Dagar, was trying to “save” Asthana and other public servants.
Dagar hit back saying it was Bassi who had been removed from the case due to “biased investigation”.
As Bassi and Dagar got into a verbal spat, the judge, who was scheduled to take cognizance of the charge sheet in the CBI bribery case, adjourned the matter.
The court asked both the officers to “not wash dirty linen in public” as they “both work in the same organization”.
Bassi had been summoned by the court to answer its query on the initial investigation into the case.
The charge sheet, filed on February 11, had only arrayed “middleman” Manoj Prasad as accused.
Asthana and CBI’s DSP Devender Kumar, who was arrested in 2018 and later got bail, were named in column 12 of the charge sheet in the case since there was not enough evidence to make them accused.
During the hearing on Friday, Bassi told the court that Dagar had “deliberately ignored” evidence against Asthana and the suspended DSP, who was the IO in a 2017 case involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi.
“From day one the new IO (Dagar) has been trying to give clean chit to Asthana. There were clinching evidence in the affidavit filed before the Supreme court that has been ignored. He did not even seize Kumar’s phone and other electronic evidence,” Bassi said, while accusing Dagar of “biased investigation”.
Bassi told the court that Prasad was arrested on 16 October 2018, and had started claiming links to senior CBI.
The CBI had registered the case against Asthana on the basis of a complaint from Hyderabad-based businessman Satish Sana, facing probe in the 2017 case involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi.
Sana, arrested for alleged links to Qureshi money laundering case, had also claimed links to senior CBI and RAW officials.
Bassi further said that Kumar showed he had recorded a statement by Sana naming former CBI chief Alok Verma on a day when Sana was not even present in Delhi.
Dagar, however, said it was Bassi who had been removed from the case due to “biased investigation”.
“Nothing found in the case files which Bassi is claiming now. There was allegations of biased investigation against him” he said.
Dagar further told the court that telephone conversations between co-accused were placed on record before the Supreme Court.
The court asked the CBI how much time it will take to complete the investigation in the Moin Qureshi case, from which the entire CBI bribery case had been linked.
“How long will you take to probe Moin Qureshi case which is the Bhagirathi, the originator of all these cases,” the judge asked.
Dagar then told court that the CBI was waiting for response to letters rogatory sent to the USA, and sought two weeks to complete the investigation.
The matter has now been put up for hearing on March 7.
The court had on February 12 expressed displeasure over the Central Bureau of Investigation’s investigation into the case and it had asked why the accused with bigger roles were roaming free while the probe agency had arrested its own deputy superintendent of police.