The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), under Alok Verma, was planning to arrest its special director Rakesh Asthana when the Delhi high court on Tuesday last restrained it from taking any coercive action against him, said officials.
Verma, the CBI director, was divested of his responsibilities hours after the court’s order along with Asthana over the corruption charges the two have levelled against each other.
“Not only Asthana, but two other key officials, joint director A Sai Manohar and superintendent of police Jagroop Gusinha, working under him in the Special Investigation Team looking into the case against controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi were on the list of those who were to be arrested,” said a government official.
The official said the three realised they could be arrested when their subordinate and the investigation officer in the tax evasion and money laundering case against Qureshi, deputy superintendent of police Devendra Kumar, was arrested.
CBI officials refused to comment on the record. Verma and Asthana did not reply to phone calls and messages for their responses. The CBI had on October 15 registered an FIR against Asthana saying two middlemen had allegedly struck Rs 5 crore deal on his behalf to close the case against Hyderabad-based businessman Sana Satish Babu, who is being investigated along with Qureshi.
Asthana had earlier, in a complaint to the cabinet secretary, alleged that Verma had tried to stop him from questioning Babu. He said Babu had claimed to have allegedly paid Rs 2 crore to get the case closed against him.
In the case registered against Asthana, the agency searched Kumar’s office and residence before arresting him.
“On Tuesday, when Asthana approached the Delhi high court, the agency investigators were moving fast in the case against him. Plans were afoot to search offices and residences of Asthana, Manohar, and Gusinha and then arrest them in the case,’’ said a CBI official on condition of anonymity. “Due to the arrest threat on Tuesday, neither Manohar nor Gusinha were in the office.”
A government functionary said Asthana, too, was unavailable at his residence on Monday or Tuesday fearing arrest. Another CBI official said Verma’s sleuths were planning to question Asthana even after the high court restrained the agency. Asthana’s petition seeking quashing of the FIR registered against him will come up for hearing on Monday