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Senior officers, AK Sharma and MK Sinha, both confidantes of sacked CBI director Alok Verma, also transferred out of the probe agency

Soon after the Centre’s Department of Personnel and Training and the Central Vigilance Commission decided to remove graft-tainted IPS officer Rakesh Asthana from his post of special director of the CBI, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has cleared the Gujarat cadre cop’s appointment as the Director General of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS).

Aside from Asthana, two other senior CBI officers – joint director AK Sharma and DIG MK Sinha – who had figured prominently in the massive slugfest that broke out within the premier investigating agency following the CVC and Centre’s controversial decision of October 23 to send the CBI director Alok Verma on leave, have also been given new postings. Both Sharma and Sinha had been removed from their posts in the CBI, on Thursday (January 17), along with Asthana.

While Sharma has been transferred as Additional Director General in the CRPF, Sinha has been appointed DIG in the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D). It may be recalled that when Verma and Asthana were sent on leave (the Supreme Court had later conditionally reinstated Verma though he was summarily dismissed from the post two days later by the CBI director’s selection panel), Sharma and Sinha were among the 10 CBI officers who were immediately transferred out of the agency by interim CBI chief Nageswara Rao.

Sinha had challenged his transfer and his petition made some of the most damning allegations about the interference of senior officials in the Prime Minister’s Office in the routine functions of the agency. In his petition, still pending before the Supreme Court but, in all probability rendered infructuous now, Sinha had named National Security Advisor Ajit Doval as one of the people affiliated with the PMO who tried to influence CBI probes while also claiming that the agency was carrying out “bogus” investigations due to political interference while the Enforcement Directorate too had become an “Extortion Directorate”.

The transfer and subsequent elevation of Asthana, an officer known as much for his proximity to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as for his alleged role in at least six corruption cases, as the head of civil aviation security is likely to raise questions of propriety.

It is pertinent to note that the Delhi High Court had recently quashed Asthana’s plea seeking quashing an FIR filed by the CBI against him in a graft case linked with Hyderabad-based businessman Sathish Sana and controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi. The court had also vacated a stay on the interim protection it had earlier given Asthana from being arrested by the CBI in the case and told the probe agency to finish its investigation against the Gujarat cadre officer within 10 weeks. So, while Asthana already has the dubious distinction of being the only officer against whom the CBI filed an FIR while he was still its special director, he could also become the first serving DG of BCAS to be arrested for graft.

—India Legal Bureau

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