It was the untimely death of an officer probing the 2G spectrum case that thrust DIG Santosh Rastogi — named by CBI director Ranjit Sinha’s counsel as the suspected “mole” who leaked documents and file notings to AAP leader and advocate Prashant Bhushan — into the spotlight. In October 2012, Rastogi was told to take over from DIG Suresh Kumar Palsania, who was suffering from a blood disorder at the time. Palsania eventually died in a south Delhi hospital
A 1998 batch officer from the Maharashtra cadre, Rastogi was shifted to the CBI anti-corruption wing’s Delhi zone to take the 2G case investigation forward. The previous supervising officer, Palsania, had already filed a chargesheet in the case against former telecom minister A Raja and DMK leader Kanimozhi.
Bhushan — the counsel for the petitioner, Centre for Public Interest Litigation — said that Rastogi was shunted to the Crime Branch after he sent a draft to special public prosecutor Uday U Lalit, now a designated Supreme Court judge, bringing to his notice a note purportedly issued by CBI director Ranjit Sinha asking Rastogi to re-investigate the case in light of new evidence.
A note with the draft said that Sinha had found new facts in the 2G case, which contradicted the chargesheet filed against Reliance Telecom and Swan Telecom. It added that the CBI wanted to suspend the ongoing trial against Reliance and Swan and reopen the case for further probe.
Lalit, in a letter dated June 30, 2014, sent a strongly worded reply to the CBI against the suggestion.
In August this year, the Supreme Court directed the CBI to “rectify” the order transferring Rastogi without the court’s consent. Rastogi was then brought back to his old post and was again placed in charge of the 2G scam probe.
Rastogi has earlier served in the Economic Offences Unit of the CBI. Hailing from Madhya Pradesh, he is the son of a former judge and has two brothers — both IAS officers. All three brothers are IIT graduates.
Known to be soft-spoken, Rastogi is described by his peers and former bosses as one of the “finest and most meticulous IPS officers” in the country. Prior to his stint in the CBI, Rastogi excelled at various posts in Maharashtra.
As deputy commissioner of police (Zone 3) in central Mumbai, he investigated BJP leader Pramod Mahajan’s murder in April 2006.
“He has always stood out as one of the finest young officers in the country. He is soft-spoken, silent and meticulous. He is also one of the most honest and incorruptible officers I have encountered. One of his best traits was that he never aligned himself with any lobby or group in the force,” said a top Maharashtra Police officer Rastogi reported to.
“As far as his work goes, Rastogi is no-nonsense and very firm in his approach. Still, he has a very pleasant manner about him. He has always been extremely thorough in his work,” said another officer Rastogi served under.