In a move to expedite probe of some high-profile cases, CBI today formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by an Additional Director which will exclusively investigate important cases like VVIP chopper scam and alleged loan fraud by beleaguered businessman Vijay Mallya.
The SIT will be headed by Additional Director Rakesh Asthanaa, a 1984 batch IPS officer of Gujarat cadre, who headed the state SIT that went into the burning of Sabarmati Express train at Godhra in February 2002. He was also associated with the Fodder Scam probe.
The VVIP helicopter bribery scandal was earlier being probed by the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) of the agency under the supervision of Additional Director Y C Modi, a 1984-batch IPS officer of Assam-Meghalaya cadre.
The Bank, Securities and Fraud Cell (BSFC) of CBI’s Mumbai branch, under the supervision of Special Director R K Dutta, a 1981-batch IPS officer of Karnataka cadre, was investigating the alleged loan fraud by Mallya.
The Joint Directors of ACU and BSFC will now report to Asthana about the progress made in the cases and follow his directions, CBI sources said.
The sources said both the probes will be monitored by CBI Director Anil Sinha. More experts and investigators will be working on these cases in a focused manner, the sources siad.
Asked if the SIT will be probing only these two cases, the sources replied in the negative. The agency had registered a case against former IAF Chief S P Tyagi and 12 others, including his three cousins and five foreign nationals, in connection with the VVIP chopper scam.
The allegation against the former Air Chief was that he had reduced flying ceiling of the helicopter from 6,000m to 4,500m (15,000 ft) so that AgustaWestland could be included in the bids.
Tyagi had, however, denied the allegations, saying the decision was taken in consultation with the officials of Special Protection Group and the Prime Minister’s Office.
The case against Mallya is related the alleged default in repayment of over Rs 900 crore loan from IDBI bank and diversion of these funds.