Recent Disruption in CBI: An Institutional Damage

Syed Basharat Hussian

The recent war between the two top officers of the Central Bureau of Investigation was actually a direct result of the Modi-led BJP government by appointing its favoured Alok Verma as the Director in  2017, and then  inserting another favourite Rakesh Asthana .

Rakesh Asthana – Asthana a high-profile Gujarat-cadre officer who investigated the burning of the Sabarmati Express at Godhra in 2002. Common Cause, a non-governmental organisation, objected his appointment and cited a corruption investigation into Gujarat-based Sterling Biotech, a company that maintained diaries of bribes in which Asthana’s name reportedly appears.

Alok Verma- a former Commissioner of Delhi Police, Verma is said to have been opposed to Asthana’s appointment to the CBI. Verma has been accused by Asthana of going soft on former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, in the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation tender issuance case.

After the Verma-Asthana fight came out in the open, the government sent both of them on leave, and superseded the obligatory  number-three officer –  Nageshwar Rao – the interim Director. Meanwhile Congress President said in a tweet that “The PM’s blue-eyed boy, Gujarat cadre officer, of Godra SIT fame, infiltrated as No. 2 into the CBI, has now been caught taking bribes. Under this PM, the CBI is a weapon of political vendetta. An institution in terminal decline that’s at war with itself”.

Brief facts: (As reported by “The Telegraph”),

The CBI scandal has exploded on some of the biggest names in the Narendra Modi establishment with a decorated officer of the agency filing a sensational petition in the Supreme Court. The intervention application mentions the Prime Minister’s Office, the National Security Adviser, the Central Vigilance Commissioner, a Union minister, the cabinet secretary, and the law secretary.

The petition was filed by DIG Manish Kumar Sinha against his transfer in a post-midnight operation while he was supervising the probe into an allegation of bribery against Rakesh Asthana, the benched special director of the CBI who is considered close to the Prime Minister. The following are some of the references, reproduced verbatim, in Sinha’s petition. Most of the charges are based on purported accounts by Satish Babu Sana, a businessman who has levelled the bribery charge against Asthana. Sana says money was paid to many people to “manage relief” after he was threatened and served multiple summonses in a case

Sinha, a winner of the President’s medal and a police medal for meritorious service, has been shifted to Nagpur from New Delhi.

In the petition, filed through advocate Sunil Fernandes, Sinha has said he has been transferred “solely with the purpose and intent to victimise” him “as the investigation revealed cogent evidence against certain powerful persons”.

The top court has refused an urgent hearing but asked Fernandes to be present when it hears CBI director Alok Verma’s plea.

The following are some of the references, reproduced verbatim, in Sinha’s petition. Most of the charges are based on purported accounts by Satish Babu Sana, a businessman who has leveled the bribery charge against Asthana. Sana says money was paid to many people to “manage relief” after he was threatened and served multiple summonses in a case

Ajit Doval, National Security Adviser: As per Manoj Prasad (the alleged middleman whose arrest on Saptami night blew the lid off the CBI scandal), Shri Dineshwar Prasad, father of Manoj and Somesh, retired as Joint Secretary, R&AW and has close acquaintance with the present National Security Adviser Shri Ajit K. Doval.  Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary, minister of state for coal and mines and MP from Gujarat, Sometime in the first fortnight of June 2018, a few crores of rupees were paid to Shri Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary, presently Minister of State for Coal and Mines in Government of India.( Source The Telegraph Online edition “CBI DIG opens can of worms in Supreme Court”, 20.11.2018)

Furthermore, there was a setback to the Modi government at that time when the Supreme Court struck down its decision to send CBI director Alok Kumar Verma on leave after divesting him of all powers reinstating him as the head of the probe agency but with clipped wings. Rahul Gandhi alleged that Alok Verma was removed because he was examining a complaint about Rafale deal.

Furthermore just two days after he was reinstated by the Supreme Court, Alok Verma was shunted out again,  by a high-level selection committee, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Moreover, CBI upheaval/revelations also indicate that high-level org/departments Like (CBI, RAW etc) are affected by external interferences of influential entities, indulgence in corrupt practices is common and senior Level officials are safeguarding their personal interests leading to big question marks on the professional competence of these orgs.

Lastly, Shashi Tharoor Member of Parliament in one of his articles said “ If this assault on India’s institutions is allowed to continue, the public could lose faith in the system altogether. This would carry incalculable consequences for India’s most valuable asset: its democracy”

Syed Basharat Hussian – a Political Analyst and can be reached at syed.basharat11@gmail.com

 

 

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