CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana (left) and Director CBI Alok Verma (right)
CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana (left) and Director CBI Alok Verma (right)(Photo: Altered by The Quint)
  • 1. Who is Rakesh Asthana?
  • 2. Who is Alok Verma?
  • 3. Who is Satish Babu Sana?
  • 4. Who is Devender Kumar?
  • 5. Who are Manoj Prasad and Somesh Prasad?
  • 6. Who is Samant Goel?
  • 7. Who is Moin Qureshi?
CBI Infighting: Asthana, Verma, Qureshi – Here Are the Key Players

In an unprecedented move, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Sunday, 15 October, booked its Special Director Rakesh Asthana for allegedly receiving bribes from middlemen to give relief to a businessman being probed by him in a case involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi.

The CBI action comes two months after Asthana, second in command in the CBI, wrote to the Cabinet Secretary on 24 August alleging that the businessman Qureshi had paid CBI Director Alok Verma Rs 2 crore to get relief in the case.

The matter was referred to the Central Vigilance Commission, which is looking into the allegations.

While allegations and counter-allegations were coming thick and fast from the camps of the CBI’s number one and two, the agency booked Asthana under charges of criminal conspiracy, corruption and criminal misconduct in a first-of-its-kind case.

Besides Asthana, the agency has booked Deputy Superintendent of Police Devender Kumar, and Manoj Prasad and Somesh Prasad, the purported middlemen, and other unknown officials.

The FIR against Asthana and others was registered by the anti-corruption unit of the CBI, based on claims made in a complaint given by Sathish Babu Sana, a Hyderabad-based businessman. Sana had narrated his meetings with various middlemen in New Delhi and Dubai before a magistrate.

Here is a closer look at the key players in this unprecedented case:

  • 1. Who is Rakesh Asthana?

    Asthana, 57, is an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the 1984 batch of the Gujarat cadre, and is the Special Director at the Central Bureau of Investigation.

    Asthana is number two in the CBI hierarchy after the director. Before Alok Verma was appointed CBI Director in February 2017, Asthana was the acting Director for a few months. He is considered to be very close to the Modi-led government. 
    CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana (left) and Director CBI Alok Verma (right)
    Special Director CBI Rakesh Asthana was charged in a bribery case.
    (Photo Courtesy: Facebook)

    The Case Against Asthana

    The CBI, on 15 October, registered an FIR against Asthana based on allegations of bribery by Sathish Babu Sana, whom Asthana had been probing in a case linked to meat exporter and hawala operator Moin Qureshi.

    Asthana is mentioned as the prime accused in the case.

    Asthana, it is alleged, received bribes through a middleman named Manoj Prasad and his brother Somesh Prasad. Manoj was arrested by the CBI’s anti-corruption unit on 16 October after he landed in Delhi from Dubai. 

    The case was registered under Section 120B (conspiracy) of the IPC and Sections 7 (illegal gratification), 13(2) (criminal misconduct), 13(1)(d) (taking bribe) of Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 and Section 7A (to influence public servant by corrupt means) of Prevention of Corruption Act (as amended in 2018).

    The CBI had said that under these sections, no prior permission under Section 17 of the Prevention of Corruption Amendment Act is needed from the government to initiate a probe against an officer.

    The 11-page FIR includes the statement of the complainant, Sana, which was recorded before a Magistrate under Section 164 of the CrPc.

    Infighting Within the CBI

    The case assumes added significance as the allegations against Asthana came hot on the heels of massive infighting within the CBI, between its Director, Alok Verma, and Special Director Asthana, his number two.

    Asthana had recently accused the CBI director of interfering in a corruption case against Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, which Asthana had been investigating.

    Background

    Asthana had presided over the Special Investigation Team (SIT) in the Godhra Sabarmati Express carnage. After his appointment, a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was moved in the Supreme Court seeking the quashing of his appointment alleging “violation of guidelines on the appointment”.

    Asthana was also given the responsibility of investigating the Fodder Scam.

    He is also heading the SIT handling crucial cases such as the AgustaWestland chopper scam and the loan fraud case by business tycoon Vijay Mallya.

    It should also be noted that it was the team under Asthana that had opened a Look Out Circular against Sana, who had attempted to flee the country but could not because of the preemptive action.

    Also Read : CBI Second-in-Command Asthana Named Prime Accused in Bribery Case

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