The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), scrambling to meet the Supreme Court mandated two-week deadline to complete its inquiry into allegations levelled by CBI special director Rakesh Asthana against his boss and agency chief Alok Verma, worked on the occasion of Diwali on Wednesday and recorded the statement of one the of the key characters in the whole saga, Hyderabad-based businessman Sana Satish Babu, said officials familiar with the matter.
The commission was supposed to examine CBI chief Alok Verma on Thursday but he refused to be examined as one of the vigilance commissioners, TM Bhasin, was not present in office, which meant the examination was postponed till Friday.
“Sana Satish Babu’s examination is crucial. He was first called on Tuesday by the CVC and his examination continued on Deepavali day as well, and well into Thursday,” said an official having direct knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified.
According to special director Asthana, Sana Satish Babu paid a bribe of ~2 crore to save himself from CBI action in the Moin Qureshi case. CBI was probing meat exporter Qureshi on charges of extortion. The case against Qureshi was being investigated by a special investigation team under the supervision of Rakesh Asthana.
Asthana first approached the cabinet secretary on August 24 claiming that Babu paid ~2 crore to CBI director Verma to save himself in the case. The cabinet secretary referred the matter to CVC which has jurisdiction over CBI in matters related to corruption. Even as CVC was examining the matter, Babu, on October 15, lodged a complaint with CBI claiming two Dubai-based brothers – Manoj Prasad and Somesh Prasad, allegedly acting on behalf of Asthana, struck a deal with him for ~5 crore to save him in the case. Following his complaint, the agency, moving quickly, registered a FIR against Asrthana on the same day .
The contual sparring between Asthana and Verma forced the government to, on October 23, divest both of their responsibilities. . Verma challenged this in the Supreme Court, following which the top court asked CVC to conduct a probe supervised by a former SC judge, and complete it within two weeks.
The top court appointed retired SC judge AK Patnaik to supervise the inquiry.
“Verma was asked to appear at 3pm on Thursday before CVC but he refused to be examined since one of the vigilance commissioners TM Bhasin was not present in the commission. Verma made it clear that he wants to be examined only before the full commission – consisting of central vigilance commissioner KV Chowdary and two vigilance commissioners , Sharad Kumar and TM Bhasin. Therefore, his examination was postponed to Friday when the full commission will be present,” added the government official.
The official clarified that the supervisory officer and former SC judge AK Patnaik was present in the commission when Verma asked for examination before full commission.
Verma’s examination was fixed for Thursday after he replied to a questionnaire sent by CVC on Tuesday. Verma informed CVC that Sana Satish Babu was a witness and not an accused in the case against Qureshi. Therefore there was no question of saving him from any CBI action, he added.
Neither CBI chief Alok Verma nor CVC KV Chowdary replied to phone calls and messages from HT.
Following the complaint by Sana Satish Babu, the case against Moin Qureshi was transferred from Asthana’s team and handed over to another team under the supervision of agency joint director AK Sharma.
But after both Asthana and Verma were divested of their charges, a new investigation officer was appointed by the acting director M Nageswar Rao.
The officials said CVC has examined Rakesh Asthana too in the matter owing to his status as a complainant in the matter. His examination too place on Tuesday along with other members of his team who was probing the Moin Qureshi case under him. It is yet not clear whether he was examined on Thursday too. Asthana too didn’t reply to phone calls and messages.
First Published: Nov 09, 2018 00:13 IST