A CBI officer who led an investigation against the agency’s number two officer Rakesh Asthana today claimed before the Supreme Court that a union minister took “a few crores” as bribe to intervene on behalf of a businessman on the agency’s radar.
CBI officer Manish Kumar Sinha, who has petitioned the court against his transfer to Nagpur as part of a massive, sudden shake-up in the agency last month, told the court today that he had “documents that will shock the court”. He said his transfer was aimed at “changing the course of the investigation” and help Rakesh Asthana.
“Nothing shocks us,” said Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, rejecting his request for an urgent hearing.
Mr Sinha investigated allegations that Rakesh Asthana, the CBI number two, had taken bribe to help a Hyderabad-based businessman, Satish Sana, evade summons in an investigation. Sana is a co-accused in multiple cases under investigation against meat exporter Moin Qureshi, who is accused of money laundering.
The officer was also in charge of various important cases, including the bank scam investigations against celebrity jeweler Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi.
Mr Sinha alleges that his transfer in the early hours of October 24 was “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 had told the top court that his petition should be heard tomorrow along with that of CBI director Alok Verma, who was sent on forced leave days after he launched an investigation into the same charges against Mr Asthana.
Mr Asthana also accused his boss Alok Verma of taking bribe from the same businessman and wrote to the vigilance chief. As the feud played out publicly, the CBI’s top two were both sent on leave in a post-midnight order on October 23 and several officers in Mr Verma’s team, who were investigating Mr Asthana, were transferred.
The exiled CBI director’s petition challenging the government’s decision to strip him of his powers and send him on forced leave will be taken up tomorrow, along with the report of a vigilance inquiry against him.