New Delhi: The Supreme Court has adjourned till November 29 the hearing the case pertaining to the corruption charges against CBI Director Alok Verma. On alleged leak of documents to media, CJI Ranjan Gogoi pulled up all the parties concerned and said, “We don’t think anyone of you deserves a hearing.” Also Read - Migrant Exodus: 'Providing Food to 23 Lakh People,' Centre Tells SC; Says 'Fake News' Biggest Challenge
Senior advocate and Verma’s counsel F S Nariman also expressed shock over the leak of the CBI director’s response. Also Read - Don't Want to Deal With Something The Govt Already Tackling, Says SC on Plea Over Migrant Workers' Plight
On Monday, Verma had filed his response to the findings of the CVC’s preliminary probe report on corruption charges against him in a sealed cover in the top court. Verma had sought some more time from the bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi for filing his reply with the secretary general of the apex court. his request was, however, denied as the top court made it clear that the hearing on his plea would not be deferred. Also Read - COVID-19 Lockdown: Supreme Court to Hear Plea on Migrant Workers on Monday
“We are not shifting the date (of hearing). You file it as quickly as possible as we will have to read it,” the bench, also comprising justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, told Verma’s lawyer Gopal Sankaranarayanan.
The apex court, on November 16, had directed Verma, Attorney General K K Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who were also supplied with the confidential report of the CVC, to maintain secrecy, saying it was needed to ensure people’s faith in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as an institution.
Earlier, the apex court had said the CVC had made some “very uncomplimentary” findings in its probe on corruption allegations against Verma and wanted further investigations into some of the charges which required more time, adding that there were also some “very complimentary” conclusions.
Verma had approached the apex court challenging the Centre’s decision to divest him of his duties and sending him on leave following his feud with Special CBI Director Rakesh Asthana, who has levelled corruption allegations against him.
Asthana has also been divested of his duties and sent on leave.
Pursuant to the top court’s order, the CVC’s inquiry against Verma was conducted under the supervision of former apex court judge Justice A K Patnaik and the report was filed in the court on November 12.
Besides Verma’s plea, the court is also seized of a PIL filed by NGO Common Cause, which has sought a probe by a special investigation team against CBI officers.
Besides, it had barred the interim CBI chief, Nageshwar Rao, from taking any major policy decision, but granted him liberty to perform the routine tasks that were essential to keep the CBI functional.
On November 4, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge had also moved the top court contending that divesting Verma of his statutory powers and functions was “completely illegal and arbitrary”.
Agency’s Officer Drags Names of Ministers, Officials
CBI senior officer M K Sinha on Monday the names of NSA Ajit Doval, Union minister Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary and CVC K V Chowdhury over alleged attempts to interfere in the probe against CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana.
Sinha, who was probing the FIR against Asthana, the CBI’s number 2, and important cases like the PNB scam involving Nirav Modi, made a litany of sensational allegations in his petition before the Supreme Court that sought urgent hearing for quashing his transfer to Nagpur.
Advocate Sunil Fernandes, appearing for Sinha, informed a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that his client has “got some shocking revelations” in his petition and sought urgent listing and hearing Tuesday along with the plea of CBI Director Alok Verma.
“Nothing shocks us,” the bench, also comprising Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, shot back, as it ruled out urgent hearing and asked Fernandes to be present in the court when it will hear Verma’s plea challenging the government’s decision to divest him of duties and sending him on leave.
Sinha claimed that as a result of his transfer to Nagpur he has been taken out of the probe team investigating the FIR against Asthana.
“The transfer is arbitrary, motivated and malafide, and was made solely with the purpose and intent to victimise the officer as the investigation revealed cogent evidence against certain powerful persons,” he alleged.
In his 34-page petition, Sinha, a 2000 batch IPS officer from Andhra Pradesh cadre, alleged that the CBI Director 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, while supporting the affidavit of Deputy Superintendent of Police officer A K Bassi, who has also been transferred to Andaman and Nicobar Islands, claimed Bassi 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.”
The CBI booked Asthana on allegations of receiving bribe from an accused Manoj Prasad probed by him in a case linked to meat exporter Moin Qureshi.
Sinha said during interrogation of a middleman Manoj Prasad, who was arrested in the bribery case allegedly involving Asthana, the names of Doval and Samant Kumar Goel, Special Director of India’s external intelligence agency (R&AW) cropped up.
“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 Manoj claimed.
Sinha said Manoj “taunted” the CBI officers and asked him to “stay in limits”.
He said on October 20, searches were conducted at the residence and the office of Devender Kumar, DySP, CBI who was investigating the Moin Qureshi case. The reason for the searches was based on certain inputs provided by Special Unit, based on legal interception.
“While the search was on, a phone call was received from Director CBI instructing to stop the search. At that time, the applicant (Sinha) was sitting in the BSF&C office and asked the Director, to which the Director replied that this instruction has come from NSA Shri Doval,” Sinha alleged.
Sinha, in his plea, also alleged that Hyderabad-based businessman Sathish Babu Sana, who is the complainant in the case against Asthana, told during interrogation that sometime in the first fortnight of June 2018, a few crores of rupees was paid to Union minister Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary, at present the minister of state for coal.
The minister, in a statement, said he would quit politics if the allegations were proven to be true. “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 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.
Sinha, presently the DIG (Head of Branch) in CBI’s Anti-Corruption Branch at Nagpur, also claimed Sana said he met the CVC along with one Gorantla Ramesh somewhere in Delhi and they discussed Moin Qureshi’s case.
Sinha also alleged that Union Law Secretary Suresh Chandra had contacted Sana while the proceedings were going on in the CVC against Alok Verma. Chandra rejected the allegation as fake.
(With PTI inputs)