Manish Kumar Sinha, a CBI officer, on Monday claimed that National Security Adviser Ajit Doval tried to influence the ongoing investigation into allegations of corruption against Special CBI director Rakesh Asthana. In a petition submitted in the Supreme Court, Sinha claimed that Doval did not allow searches that were important to the inquiry and that a Union minister of state took "a few crores" to help a businessman under investigation.
Sinha, who was leading an investigation into a corruption allegation against Asthana, was abruptly transferred to Nagpur. Sinha, an IPS officer, challenged the transfer in his petition filed before the top court. He sought a permission to be heard on Tuesday, saying he wanted to place shocking information against Asthana. Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, however, rejected Sinha’s request for an urgent hearing, saying “we are not shocked by anything”.
The plea alleges interference by Doval, Minister of State for Coal and Mines Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary and Union Law secretary Suresh Chandra in the investigation against Asthana.
The bench also comprising Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph is scheduled to hear on Tuesday the plea of CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma challenging the government's decision of divesting him of duties and sending him on leave.
Sinha further claimed that a Union minister of state took "a few crores" to help a businessman under investigation. He also alleged that he was transferred to Nagpur and as a result has been taken out from the probe team investigating the FIR against Asthana. Asthana has been divested of his duties and sent on leave by the central government following his ongoing tussle with Verma.
Chaudhary termed as "baseless and malicious" the allegations levelled against him by Sinha, saying he would quit politics if they were proven to be true. The Union minister, in a statement, said he did not know the businessman.
"Certain absolutely false and baseless allegations have been made against me. I neither know, nor have I met Mr Sathish Babu Sana, who is alleged to have paid me a bribe," he said. "I only came to know from various media reports today that an affidavit has been filed in the Hon'ble Supreme Court mentioning this matter. I condemn this malicious attempt to malign my reputation. I welcome any enquiry into this matter and the law should take its own course. If I am proven guilty, I am willing to leave politics," he said.
The CBI had booked Asthana on allegations of receiving a bribe from an accused probed by him in a case linked to meat exporter Moin Qureshi.
In his petition, Sinha alleged that the CBI director had briefed Doval on October 17 about registration of a case against Asthana. "Subsequently on the same night, it was informed that the NSA has informed Rakesh Asthana about registration of the FIR. It was informed that Rakesh Asthana reportedly made a request to the NSA that he should not be arrested," the petition said.
Sinha added that Deputy Superintendent of Police officer AK Bassi, who has also been transferred to Andaman and Nicobar Islands, had favoured immediate search of public servants involved in the bribery case (relating to Asthana) but the "Director CBI did not give immediate permission and reverted that the NSA has not permitted the same."
Sinha claimed that Manoj Prasad, who was arrested in the bribery case allegedly involving Asthana, had said his father Dineshwar Prasad - a former Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) officer -had "close acquaintance" with Ajit Doval.
"As per Manoj Prasad, Dineshwar Prasad, his father, retired as Joint Secretary, and has close acquaintance with Doval. This was one of the first things Manoj claimed on being brought to CBI HQ and expressed complete surprise and anger as to how CBI could pick him up, despite his close links with Doval," Sinha said, adding that Prasad "taunted" the CBI officers and asked him to "stay in limits".
Sinha also alleged that Hyderabad-based businessman Satish Sana, a co-accused in an investigation against Qureshi, told during interrogation that a few crores of rupees was paid to Union minister Chaudhary.
"As per Sana, Harbhai had intervened with the senior officers of CBI through the office of Minister of personnel...to whom apparently, the Director CBI reports to.
"The money was paid through one Vipul of Ahmedabad. These facts were disclosed to me by Sana on October 20 in the forenoon," Sinha said.
Reacting to the petition, Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said the allegations were "deeply shocking" and "put a question mark" on the PM's office.
Deeply shocking revelations have surfaced in public domain,which puts a question mark on PM Modi, functioning of PMO, allegations of bribery on MoS, Law Sec influencing investigation, NSA helping the accused & CVC being named in these murky dealings:-https://t.co/wwrNfzZyNm— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) November 19, 2018
"Deeply shocking revelations have now come in public domain which put a question mark on PM, the functioning of PMO, allegations of graft against an MoS (Minister of State), another minister helping him. Law Secretary influencing the probe, NSA influencing the probe," he said.