- Tarun Gauba was in charge of the probe against Rakesh Asthana
- He had replaced MK Sinha as the head of the investigation team
- The decision to "repatriate" him was conveyed through an order
A CBI officer in charge of the probe against Rakesh Asthana, a former Special Director at the agency transferred under controversial circumstances earlier this year, was removed from his position by the central government today. The decision on "repatriating" Deputy Inspector General Tarun Gauba was conveyed through an order issued by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievance and Pensions.
"Approval of the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) is hereby conveyed for premature repatriation of Shri Tarun Gauba, IPS (UP:2001), DIG, CBI to his State Cadre," the notice read.
The CBI said that the official was shifted of his own volition. "Tarun Gauba's tenure in the CBI was up to October 2019, and he was selected for the Fulbright Scholarship beginning August 1. As he could not have remained in the CBI beyond his seven-year tenure, he has been repatriated on his personal request to his parent cadre, from where he will proceed with his scholarship," agency spokesperson Nitin Wakankar told NDTV.
Tarun Gauba, a 2001-batch IPS officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre, was assigned as the in-charge of the team constituted to probe corruption allegations against Rakesh Asthana last October in connection with a case against meat exporter Moin Qureshi. He had replaced MK Sinha as the head of the investigation team, with the latter being transferred in "public interest". As many as 13 officers were also transferred around the same time.
Incidentally, CBI Additional Director Nageshwar Rao was shunted out barely a week ago. He was appointed as the head of the investigation agency last October, after the then CBI Director Alok Verma was sent on an indefinite vacation by the government.
Rakesh Asthana's transfer to the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security in January came months after a feud between him and Alok Verma emerged into the open. Both the top CBI officials had levelled corruption charges against each other, resulting in a bitter tussle that the central government believed was tarnishing the investigation agency's image.
Although the probe was supposed to be completed in 10 weeks, the Delhi High Court granted the CBI four additional months to complete the probe against Rakesh Asthana and two other officials -- Deputy Superintendent of Police Devender Kumar and middleman Manoj Prasad -- in May. The former CBI Special Director has been charged with criminal conspiracy, corruption and criminal misconduct under relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Devender Kumar, who was probing the Moin Qureshi case, was arrested on October 22 on charges of tampering with the statement of Hyderabad-based businessman Sathish Babu Sana, who allegedly paid the bribe to get relief in the case. He was granted bail on October 31.
Alok Verma has not been faring too well either. He faces disciplinary proceedings by the central government for refusing to take over as the Director General of Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guards and seeking to be relieved from service instead.