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Is CBI's credibility Under Threat?
Author: Thamanna Abdul Latheef
CBI, country’s premier investigative agency, raided CBI itself early this month. CBI has filed an FIR against its own special director Rakesh Asthana for allegedly accepting a bribe of over 300 crore rupees to scuttle an investigation. This bought out a fight that has been brewing inside the CBI for several years between the director Alok Verma, who is in charge and his second-in-command Rakesh Asthana.
The fight started two years ago when both of them were vying for the same position in the CBI as the then director Anil Sinha was to retire in 2016. Then Rakesh Asthana was appointed as an interim director. Two months later, Alok Verma was appointed as the director and the interim director post has been taken away from Asthana and he was posted as a special director of the CBI.
In October 2017, Alok Verma wrote a two-page descent note to Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) alleging that Sterling Biotech company had bribed Asthana at 3.88 crore rupees. He also recommended the CVC that Asthana’s promotion be stopped until the investigations were completed. However, CVC then cleared Rakesh Asthana’s promotion.
But things took a turn when Asthana, in turn, wrote to cabinet secretary complaining that the CBI director Alok Verma had been interfering in his cases and investigations and also accepted a bribe of over 2 crore rupees from a Hyderabad based businessman Sana Babu. Incidentally, the current FIR filed against Asthana is for accepting the bribe of 3 crores from the same Sana Babu.
Furthermore, Asthana went on to list more than a dozen charges against his director. The CBI, in turn, informed the CVC that they're investigating Asthana on six cases of corruption. Surprisingly, Asthana was in charge of the investigation of high profile cases like AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam, Mallya’s loan fraud and Moin Qureshi’s s case.
Amid heated political discussions, both Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana were detained from the position late at night by the Modi government without any prior notice. Though Alok Verma and his team were investigating on the alleged corruption charges against Asthana, why did government was in so much hurry to send them off? No doubt the CBI has been a caged parrot as it was one of the tools that the consecutive governments used as a weapon to politically attack political opponents. But now, it goes without saying that the credibility of the CBI has been totally eroded.
It has also been said that Alok Verma was investigating on Rafale deal as well. What on earth can make a fall of a federal investigating agency when both high officials or chiefs accuse each other of corruption and the government does nothing but transferring them. Undoubtedly, the credibility of India's premier investigating agency has been eroded and one must infer that the functioning of the CBI is under threat!