Updated: October 29, 2014 11:05:01 am
“Sir 500 words essay is good or 1000 word essay and size of jacket. Fast pls.” When meat exporter Moin Qureshi sent this BBM message in July last year to A P Singh, the former CBI director who is now a member of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) replied, “500 words. 40 Jacket 16 collar size.”
This was in 2013, the same year that Singh joined the UPSC after he had retired as CBI director. Today, this mysterious message is one of the many between the two that convinced Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to inform the Supreme Court on October 17 that Singh’s conduct was “wholly unbecoming of the office he held (as CBI Director)”.
According to the country’s top legal officer, these messages were “code language conversations on a daily basis on issues including helping the accused in some cases”.
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In another BBM message sent in 2013, Qureshi asked: “From the file you left with me would you require some papers?” Singh replied: “Just some very small papers.”
Qureshi has since denied any knowledge of the files mentioned in the messages that were retrieved by officials at CERT-IN (Indian Computer Emergency Response Team) from a laptop that was seized from his office premises in Delhi during an Income Tax raid on February 15.
Singh denied that these BBM messages were part of a “coded conversation”. “Qureshi was visiting London so I asked him to bring some shirts from a shop in Paris. The essay which is referred is two essays on international bribery prepared for my daughter that I had given to Qureshi for formatting. This is much after I left CBI. There is no question of any other association,” he said.
In fact, in an earlier message in that BBM sequence, Qureshi had asked Singh: “You need something from here?” Singh responded: “Just get some shirt from that shop but not slim fit”.
The Indian Express had first reported on May 15 that I-T officials were investigating various BBM exchanges between Qureshi and Singh, which indicated that the two knew each other well and that the businessman had even sought the former CBI director’s “help”, on behalf of people being probed by the bureau.
In an appraisal report, called for by the Supreme Court, I-T officials had brought Qureshi under the scanner for “unexplained income” that he allegedly generated through “his connection with high ranking government officials”.
Singh was CBI chief from 2010 to 2012, and was appointed UPSC member in 2013 for a five-year term. The BBM messages cover a period between October 2011 and February 2014.
The IT report also cited another BBM exchange to indicate that Qureshi was intervening on behalf of those against whom the CBI had initiated proceedings.
In October 2011, Singh, then the CBI chief, received the following BBM from Qureshi: “Sir the petition I gave you last nite please help T S Narayanaswamy ex-chairman Bank of India who is known to our family for 30 years. Others I don’t know. Thanks and Regards.”
Singh replied: “Checked. Chargesheet already filed. Now he has to approach the courts for relief.”
The CBI was investigating Narayanaswamy for his alleged role in extending credit to Rajat Pharmachem Ltd, a Delhi-based pharma company, which had allegedly defrauded public sector banks, including the Bank of India, of around Rs 800 crore.
The apex court had asked for the IT appraisal report while hearing a PIL filed by lawyer Prashant Bhushan on the visit of individuals being probed by CBI to the residence of its current chief Ranjit Sinha. Bhushan had alleged that Qureshi who appears 70 times in the visitors list was acting as a conduit for Sinha. However, the Attorney General informed the court that there were no direct conversations between Sinha and Qureshi.
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