CBI Joint Director A K Sharma in an affidavit to the Delhi High Court Wednesday said that there is “incriminating evidence” against CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana in the form of call detail records and WhatsApp conversations.
The affidavit was submitted through Sharma’s counsel, M A Niyazi while the High Court was hearing separate pleas of Asthana, CBI DSP Devendra Kumar and middleman Manoj Prasad seeking the quashing of an FIR against them that includes extortion charges.
Justice Najmi Waziri ordered the CBI to maintain status quo on proceedings against Asthana till December 7, the next day of the hearing and also allowed CBI Director Alok Verma to inspect files at the Central Vigilance Commission office on Thursday after his counsel said that there are mala fide allegations against him in Asthana’s petition. He also allowed Sharma to go to the CVC’s office on Friday to inspect the files.
Sharma’s affidavit said: “It is stated that there is incriminating intercepted telephonic/WhatsApp conversation between the co-accused and their associates, wherein the name of the petitioner (Asthana) is regularly cropping up which imputes criminality on his part. Furthermore, the petitioner is regularly in conversation with other senior official who is in constant communication with the other co-accused in FIR.”
The affidavit also claimed that the call detail records (CDR) analysis of the mobile phones seized by the CBI of alleged middleman Manoj Prasad shows repeated conversations between senior CBI officials, alleged middleman Somesh Prasad, his wife and Asthana. “Thus there are incriminating documents/evidence against all accused persons including the petitioner (Asthana),” the affidavit said.
The affidavit said that Asthana is the among the “main beneficiaries of the extortion and kingpin of the entire offences”. It stated: “…the charges are serious, grave and materials are highly incriminating. Hence, the instant petition requires to be outrightly rejected by the court.”
Earlier, the CBI in its reply to pleas by Asthana and DSP Devender Kumar had said allegations against them and others show “cognizable offences”. The agency had said it was “handicapped” in its probe against them as the case files and documents have been sent to the CVC for scrutiny following the Supreme Court’s order.
Hyderabad-based businessman Satish Sana Babu had lodged a complaint alleging extortion and bribery against Asthana, Kumar and alleged middlemen Manoj Prasad and Somesh Prasad in October after which an FIR was registered against them.
Sana’s role was being investigated by the CBI in a corruption case involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi. While Prasad was arrested, Kumar is out on bail. As the case became public, the Centre sent Verma and Asthana on forced leave and appointed an interim CBI director. Verma has filed a petition challenging the government order in the Supreme Court.