The CBI on Tuesday gave a clean chit to its former special director Rakesh Asthana and DSP Devender Kumar in an alleged bribery and extortion case against the duo and others.
Filing a chargesheet in the case, which was registered on directions of former CBI director Alok Verma, who was then locked in a turf war with Asthana, the CBI has dropped both as accused.
In its chargesheet filed before Special CBI Judge Sanjeev Kumar, the agency has, however, arraigned alleged middleman Manoj Prasad as an accused in the case and said that the probe against his brother — Somesh Prasad – and one Sunil Mittal is yet to be concluded.
No charges have been brought against current Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) chief Samant Goel either. His name had cropped up in connection with the Prasad brothers.
“Investigations have not revealed any role of public servants in the case,” a senior CBI officer said when asked about the clean chit to Asthana and Devender Kumar. “As far as some private persons are concerned, one has been charge-sheeted, while investigations against others is to continue. The agency is awaiting answers to letters rogatory sent to some foreign countries for evidence against them.”
On October 4, 2019, The Indian Express had first reported that Asthana is likely to be absolved of all charges of corruption in the case. The investigating officer in the case had prepared a report exonerating Asthana, and it had been submitted to superiors, The Indian Express had reported.
Sources had said that Manoj and Somesh Prasad continue to be under investigation. Sources had also said that after almost a year of investigation under multiple officers, CBI had concluded that there was no evidence to prove that any bribe was ever demanded by or paid to Asthana.
The special judge has kept the chargesheet for consideration on Wednesday.
The agency filed the chargesheet a day before the hearing in Delhi High Court, which had sought the presence of CBI director Rishi Kumar Shukla on February 12 for his assistance in the case related to Asthana and others.
The High Court had sought Shukla’s presence after their counsel was unable to specify why they need further time to complete the investigation.
The query was posed during the hearing of the CBI’s application, which had sought at least one more month to complete the probe. The agency had stated that it had completed the probe and it is being examined by supervisory officers.
This was the third such application filed by CBI since January 2019.
On May 31 last year, the court had granted CBI four months to complete the probe into the case, which also involves Kumar, Manoj and others. A second extension of two months was granted on October 9, 2019, with a clarification that no further extension would be granted.
Asthana, Kumar and Prasad had moved court seeking quashing of the FIR against them. In January 2019, the court had dismissed their plea and said the investigation against the four should be completed within 10 weeks.
An FIR registered by CBI on October 15, 2018, when Verma was the agency’s director, had alleged that a suspect in the Moin Qureshi case had been forced to pay Rs 2.95 crore to Asthana through the Prasad brothers to water down the case against him. The suspect, Sathish Sana Babu, was made a witness in the case by the CBI.
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