Asthana was sent on leave along with Verma
As the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) conducts an enquiry into allegations against CBI Director Alok Verma, fresh details have emerged that the panel, headed by K V Chowdary, passed two diametrically different orders within a year on the same “note” against CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana.
Based on the October 21, 2017 “note” from Verma, the CVC passed an order on October 23 to sidestep Asthana from the CBI while it had rejected the contents of that “note” to select Asthana as Special Director a year earlier. The Indian Express has learnt that the CVC order of October 23 refers to the “note” submitted by Verma “during the meeting of Selection Committee for appointment of Special Director in CBI on 21.10.17”.
The CVC order states that in the note “certain transactions alleged to have been found in certain records seized from the Sandesara group,” wherein “23 suspected entries in hard as well as soft data has been detected for a total amount of Rs 39472106/- with respect to Shri Rakesh Asthana”.
The order also noted that “investigations in the said RC (regular case) is still pending” and “the fact that certain investigations are pending under the PC (Prevention of Corruption) Act against the Special Director, CBI the second senior-most in the organization and that he in turned (sic) has to supervise and monitor investigations places him in a very embarrassing and awkward situation.”
This runs contrary to the stance of the CVC in October 2017 in the meeting to select Asthana as the Special Director, “the Selection Committee had given good reasons for not accepting the contents of the letter submitted by the Director, CBI and recommended Shri Rakesh Asthana for appointment as Special Director, CBI.”
The Supreme Court order in the case challenging Asthana’s selection brought out the minutes of the selection committee meeting held in Chowdary’s office, which were placed before the apex court by the Attorney General. As per the minutes of the meeting of October 21, 2017 cited in the order, “The Committee considered the note and the matter was also discussed with the Director, CBI. Keeping in view that there is no finding in these papers that the person mentioned therein is the same person under consideration for appointment and there is nothing about the veracity of the contents of the document and the further fact that the CBI itself moved the present proposal on 06.07.2017 wherein it has been categorically mentioned that Shri Rakesh Asthana IPS (GJ:1984) is suitable to hold the post of Special Director, CBI and no further verified material has been brought on record, the Committee decided to recommend him for appointment as Special Director, CBI”.
The CVC order issued last month for sidestepping Asthana, along with a similar order against Verma, also noted that CBI had reported to it via another letter on September 18 that “it found evidence of pecuniary benefits received by Shri Asthana and his family members from Sterling Biotech in the probe relating to RC 8A/2017 AC III and RC 7E/2017, BS & FC Delhi”. It also noted the RC filed in the bribery case by CBI last month in which Asthana was named as an accused, based on a complaint by Sathish Babu Sana, a witness in the Moin Qureshi case.