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Verma’s counsel has told the Delhi High Court that the CBI was trying to derail the investigation against agency’s special director Rakesh Asthana

The Delhi High Court, on Wednesday (November 28), allowed the counsel for exiled CBI director Alok Verma to visit the Central Vigilance Commission, at 4.30 pm on Thursday, to inspect the case diary prepared by the probe agency against its special director Rakesh Asthana in various corruption cases.

The direction of the Delhi High Court came during proceedings in a case filed by Asthana seeking quashing of the FIR registered by the agency against him in connection with allegations that he received bribes from Hyderabad-based businessman Sathish Sana. Sana, whose role in under the agency’s scanner in a case connected with controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi, had reportedly told the CBI that he had paid bribes to Asthana to have his name cleared in the investigation.

Sana’s statement, recorded before a magistrate, had proved to be the flashpoint in the feud between Verma and Asthana and led to the Centre finally divesting both top officers of the CBI of their responsibilities and sending them on leave in a much criticized midnight move on October 24.

The Centre’s action against the CBI top bosses had triggered a slew of petitions in the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court; nearly all of them claiming that the senior officials in the Modi government were trying to shield Asthana in the six corruption cases being probed against him. A majority of these petitions were filed by CBI officers who were part of the SIT that was investigating Asthana and were transferred out of Delhi after the Centre decided to replace Verma with M Nageswara Rao as interim chief of the probe agency.

On Wednesday, as the Delhi High Court resumed its hearing in the plea filed by Asthana, Verma’s counsel told the court that they need to peruse through the documents related to the cases filed against Asthana so as to adequately respond to his request to the court for quashing of the FIR filed against him.

Posting Asthana’s plea for next hearing to December 7, the court allowed Verma’s counsel to visit the CVC office and inspect the relevant documents – but only under supervision of superintendent of police, Satish Dagar.

Meanwhile, AK Sharma, joint director in the CBI, who was also divested of his charge as head of the agency’s anti-corruption wing by Nageswara Rao following Verma’s unceremonious exit, has also filed his reply with the Delhi High Court against the petition filed by Asthana. In his response, Sharma has dubbed Asthana as the “kingpin” of an extortion racket and claimed that the agency’s probe against the top officer had led to various incriminating evidence that could prove this claim. Sharma has also provided, in a sealed cover, the said evidence to the Delhi High Court. These confidential documents reportedly include transcripts of taped telephonic and WhatsApp conversations and messages between Asthana and some persons from whom he allegedly received bribes, besides other evidences.

The Supreme Court is also set to resume its hearing, on Thursday (November 29) in another petition related to the mess in the CBI – one filed by Verma challenging the Centre’s decision to send him on leave.

— India Legal Bureau

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