NSA, minister hampered Asthana probe: CBI officer

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NEW DELHI: A senior CBI officer, who supervised the team probing the corruption FIR against the agency’s Special Director R K Asthana before he was transferred out, moved the Supreme Court on Monday levelling a series of allegations involving National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Central Vigilance Commissioner K V Chowdhury, Union Law Secretary Suresh Chandra and Union Minister of State for Coal and Mines Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary.
Urging the court to step in before the CBI became the ‘Centre for Bogus Investigation,’ Manish Kumar Sinha, DIG (Head of Branch), CBI, Anti-Corruption Branch, Nagpur, narrated alleged instances in which Doval seems to have stalled his team’s investigation into the FIR against Asthana and CBI officer Devender Kumar, among others.
Plea before Bench
A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, is to hear the petition filed by the exiled CBI Director Alok Verma in which he has alleged that his removal was the work of “high functionaries” in the government who want to shackle the agency’s probe into several sensitive cases.
Sinha said Verma had briefed the National Security Advisor (NSA) on October 17 about the FIR against Asthana. The application alleged that when the NSA informed Asthana the same night, the latter “reportedly made a request to NSA that he should not be arrested”. The CBI officer said his team had wanted the cell phones of officials involved in the FIR as they would contain evidence. But the CBI Director did not give “immediate permission and reverted that the NSA has not permitted the same”.
“The Director replied that he was not getting clearance from the NSA/Shri Doval,” the application, filed through advocate Sunil Fernandes, alleged.
The application narrated how Manoj Prasad, an accused in the Asthana FIR, “bragged” about his “close links” with the NSA when he was picked up by the CBI while on his way back from Dubai. The application said Manoj Prasad had threatened that his brother Somesh, another accused in the Asthana FIR, was “very close” to Samant Goel, presently Special Secretary, R&AW and he could “get us ‘finished off’/‘kicked out’”.
Manoj Prasad, the application alleged, had said “his brother Somesh and Samant Goel, helped the NSA Ajit Doval on an important personal matter”.
Whistle-blower coerced
Sinha, in his application, detailed how Law Secretary Chandra got in touch with Sathish Babu Sana, the person who lodged the complaint against Mr. Asthana.
Sana was under investigation in the Moin Qureshi case before he became a “whistle-blower”. It was based on this complaint that the FIR against Asthana was lodged on October 15.
“The investigation team has been penalised/victimised because of its impartiality and diligence,” Sinha said, seeking the quashing of his transfer.