October 19, 6.08 pm: “Samant bhaiya was so angry… this idiot, why didn’t he mention to you that CBI chaps have called.”
October 20, 10.10 am: “…Papa, this whole matter has happened because of Asthana’s name. Bhaiya must have got that done… so probably, money may have been exchanged there.”
October 20, 10.10 am: “…this has to be given to Asthana and a lot of pressure is coming on me from there, that it has to be given.”
THESE ARE some of the key excerpts from transcripts of purported conversations among those allegedly linked to the case of bribery levelled against CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana by the agency in its FIR filed on October 15.
Parts of these transcripts were included in the writ petition filed in the Supreme Court on October 30 by CBI DySP Ajay Kumar Bassi, who was the investigating officer in the Asthana bribery case.
Bassi had moved the Supreme Court to seek quashing of his transfer to Port Blair on October 23, when two of the CBI’s top officers — Director Alok Kumar Verma and Asthana — were sent on leave after levelling serious allegations against each other.
On October 31, The Indian Express had reported on a key line from these transcripts of purported phone conversations of Someshwar Prasad, the brother of alleged Dubai-based middleman Manoj Prasad who is said to have close links with senior officers in the CBI. “Asthana toh apna aadmi hai (Asthana is our man),” read the line from a purported conversation on Someshwar’s phone that was placed under surveillance by the CBI.
The transcripts suggest alleged links between R&AW officer Samant Kumar Goel and Asthana in the bribery case in which the CBI Special Director was named Accused No.1.
The case is based on a complaint from Hyderabad businessman Sathish Babu Sana, who alleged in a statement before a Delhi magistrate on October 4 that Rs 5 crore had been demanded from him on behalf of Asthana and DySP Devender Kumar. Kumar, who was arrested on October 22, was the investigating officer in the Moin Qureshi case as part of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by Asthana.
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The CBI’s FIR mentions Goel’s name and identifies Someshwar and Manoj as alleged conduits for the bribe. The transcripts are of purported conversations between October 17 and 20, and refer to conversations between Someshwar, his father Dineshwar Prasad who was with R&AW till 2000, his father-in-law Sunil Mittal, and his sister Suman.
Someshwar did not respond to calls and text messages from The Indian Express seeking comment on the transcripts.
Responding to the charges in the Delhi High Court, where he sought quashing of the FIR, Asthana alleged that the FIR showed “how the highest officer of the premier investigating agency of the country” was trying to falsely implicate him, the second most senior officer of the agency, to hide his “own criminal misconduct of influencing investigations in exchange for money”.
Referring to parts of the transcripts in his petition before the Supreme Court, Bassi alleged that “there is a strong chance that they (CBI) may not place them on record”.
‘These chaps are all notorious’
October 17, 7.03 pm. From the transcript of a purported conversation between Someshwar and Dineshwar indicating that Samant Goel has allegedly been in touch with Someshwar, even after Manoj had been arrested. Goel is referred to as a batchmate of Asthana:
Someshwar: “(Samant Goel) bolte hain ki… woh jo hai unka batchmate hai na jo Asthana hai… special director hai… next in line jo hai… toh bole ki maine usko bola ki zara dekho issey yeh family matter hai… yeh mera personal family ka matter hai. To isko dekho zara… toh usne dekh-ke bataya. Usne bataya ki mujhe pata hain yeh saara kaun kar raha hai… kyun ho raha hai…Woh chakkar hai (Samant Goel says that… his batchmate is there who is Asthana… he is Special Director (of CBI)… he is next in line (to be CBI Director)… So said that I have told him that please look into this, it is a family matter… this is a family matter… of my personal family… So look into this a bit… so he looked into it and said. That was it. That is the matter.”
Dineshwar: “Chinta karne ki zaroorat nahi hai (There is no need to worry).”
Someshwar: “Woh kah rahe thay ki chinta mat karo… I know… Bata rahe thay ki uncle ka bhi phone aaya thaa… baat hui thi… and I am feeling bad… ki this is something which is… I have capacity… I have limitation to help this matter… because jitne bhi bande hain sab notorious hain… jo agency waale hain… toh kah rahe thay ki ismein… beyond a point I cannot go… pata lage kal ka mera naam chaap diya… toh wo chakkar hai… aur ED ko jo head hai… inka batchmate hai… (He was saying that do not worry… I know… he was saying that uncle had also called on phone… they had spoken… and I am feeling bad… that this is something which is… I have capacity… I have limitation to help this matter… because all these chaps who are there are all notorious… these are people from the agency… so he was saying that in this… beyond a point I cannot go… what if we know that tomorrow my name is also printed… that is the issue… and the ED head… he is his batchmate).”
‘Bhaiya may have mentioned Asthana’s name’
October 18, 3.29 pm. From the transcript of a purported conversation between Mittal and Someshwar allegedly mentioning Asthana as “our man”:
Mittal: “Toh yeh jo team hai na, yeh Asthana ki hai (So this team that is there, is of Asthana).”
Someshwar: “Nahin, nahin, Asthana ki team nahin hai yeh… Asthana toh humara banda hai (No no, this is not Asthana’s team… Asthana is our man).”
Someshwar: “Nahin, nahin… Asthana toh Samant bhaiya ka batchmate hai. Bhaiya toh milke aaye hain usse, Asthana se… yeh Asthana ki team nahin hai, ye doosri team hai… No.1 ki team hai (No no, Asthana is the batchmate of Samant (Goel) bhaiya. Bhaiya has gone and met him, Asthana… This is not Asthana’s team, this is another team… team of No.1).”
Mittal: “Nahin, Nahin (No, No)… Asthana is the No.2 in CBI.”
Someshwar: “Haan.. toh usse kaam karwane ke liye… ki kaam karwa do. Aur (Manoj) bhaiya ne shayad message mein kahin mention uska naam kar diya hoga. Asthana ka. Haan. Bhaiya ne naam-waam mention kar diya hoga uska message mein… toh yeh hai (Yes… so to get work done from him… get the work done. And (Manoj) bhaiya may have probably mentioned his name in the message… Asthana’s name… yes… Bhaiya would have mentioned his name in the message… so that is it…).”
‘Samant bhaiya was so angry’
October 19, 6.08 pm. From the transcript of a purported conversation between Someshwar and Suman allegedly referring to Manoj’s return to India, which led to his arrest:
Someshwar: “…itna gussa kar rahe thay Samant bhaiya… ki tumko… isko, bewakoof ko, tumse kyon nahin zikr kiya ki bhai mujhe CBI waale bulaye hain (…Samant bhaiya was so angry… that you… this idiot, why didn’t he mention to you that CBI chaps have called).”
‘Probably, some money has been exchanged’
October 20, 10.10 am. From transcript of purported conversation between Someshwar and Dineshwar on alleged payment of bribe to Asthana:
Someshwar: “Yeh papa, yeh saara matter ho gaya, yeh uska, Asthana ka, naam ko leke. Bhaiya ne unka karwaya hoga, karwaya hai.. toh usmein shayad koi paisa exchange hua hai. Yeh zaahir-si baat hai ki koi kaam karwayega toh free mein toh karwake nahin dega tumko (This Papa, this whole matter has happened because of Asthana’s name. Bhaiya must have got that done, has got it done… so money may have been exchanged there. It is obvious that if someone gets work done then he will not get it done for free).”
Dineshwar: “Haan (Yes).”
Someshwar: “Toh usmein paisa-waisa exchange hua hai toh usmein bhaiya ne shayad… (unclear) kar diya hai… ki yeh Asthana ko dena hai aur mereko bahut pressure aaraha hai wahaan se, ki dena hai, usne woh conversation record kar liya tha, jab Asthana ka naam aa gaya toh yeh toh (So money has been exchanged and probably Bhaiya has… (unclear) done this. that this has to be given to Asthana and a lot of pressure is coming on me from there, that it has to be given, he had recorded that conversation when Asthana’s name has come up, so then).”