The feud between Central Bureau of Investigation Director Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana turned murkier with the arrest of Devender Kumar, a deputy superintendent of police in the special investigation team headed by Asthana.
CBI Director Alok Verma was called to the Prime Minister’s Office on Sunday where he met senior officials, and concerns of the top office about the working of the agency were communicated to him.
The meeting took place in the background of a CBI FIR against its Special Director Asthana, who is heading the special investigation team and in-charge of several sensitive cases such as loan fraud by business tycoon Vijay Mallya and AgustaWestland chopper scam.
The CBI carried out searches at Kumar’s residence and his office at the agency headquarters on Saturday and Sunday, and claimed to have seized his mobile phones and iPads.
The CBI went a step ahead and arrested Kumar on Monday, alleging he had “fabricated the statement” of Sathish Sana, a businessman from Hyderbad, who was facing probe in a case involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi.
The statement was shown to be recorded on September 26, 2018 when Sana was not in Delhi and it was done in order to strengthen Asthana’s complaint against the CBI Director which is being looked into by the Central Vigilance Commission, officials said.
“The matter relates to alleged creation of a fabricated statement U/S 161 (CrPC) of a witness in another case at Delhi by the said accused (Kumar),” the CBI spokesperson said Monday.
In the purported statement, Sana informed the CBI team that he had said about the CBI case against him to a Rajya Sabha MP of the Telugu Desam Party, who had met CBI Director Alok Verma and after the meeting assured that he would be given clean chit in the matter, they said.
Asthana in his complaint to the CVC had mentioned about the statement alleging Verma was trying to give relief to Sana after taking bribe of Rs two crore from him.
With the statement now claimed to be fabricated by the investigating team of the CBI, Verma can use it in his defence before the Central Vigilance Commission which is seized of the matter, they said.
The probe in the matter has been handed to an officer of the agency against whom Asthana had levelled allegations of insubordination and questionable integrity who reported directly to Verma.
The feud between the two started when Asthana questioned the attempts of Verma to induct certain officers in the CBI last year.
Verma gave back by objecting to the promotion of Asthana as Special Director, which was not given heed to by the transparency watchdog.
An application against his appointment was also rejected by the Supreme Court paving the way for Asthana’s appointment as Special Director and number two in the agency.
Asthana filed an exhaustive complaint to the CVC against the CBI Director on August 24, 2018 giving over 11 instances of alleged corruption and irregularities against him, which included receiving Rs 2 crore bribe from Sana.
Verma also wrote to the CVC that Asthana cannot represent him in selection committee meetings in the transparency watchdog when he is away.
Meanwhile, the CVC had called files of certain cases from the CBI which were mentioned by Asthana in his complaint. The files were furnished with a strong letter alleging that the role of Asthana was under probe in at least six matters.
On October 15, the CBI registered the FIR against Asthana alleging criminal misconduct on his part and that Sana had allegedly paid bribe of around Rs 5 crore through a middleman to the Special Director to get relief.