- CBI's Manish Sinha has challenged transfer to Nagpur in Supreme Court
- He led probe against CBI No 2; claims transfer aimed at helping senior
- Government functionary took bribe, officer alleges in petition to court
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 of state 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 top court against his transfer to Nagpur as part of the shake-up in the agency last month, told the court 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," replied Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, rejecting his request for an urgent hearing.
Manish Sinha investigated allegations that Rakesh Asthana, special director, had taken bribe to help a Hyderabad-based businessman, Satish Sana, linked to an investigation. Sana is a co-accused in multiple cases against meat exporter Moin Qureshi.
Mr Sinha, who was also in charge of the bank scam investigations against celebrity jeweler Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, 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 says there is "reasonable apprehension... of tampering with evidence, exonerate the existing accused persons against whom there already exists overwhelming evidence and on the contrary, implicate/punish, as a first step of which the applicant was transferred to Nagpur twelve hundred kilometres away."
Mr Sinha's petition alleges intervention in this case by many in the government.
Among them is Law Secretary Suresh Chandra, who, says Mr Sinha "waded into the issue". Rekha Rani, an IAS officer allegedly contacted Satish Sana on behalf of the Law Secretary. Satish Sana spoke to him on Whatsapp, says the petition.
"The Union Law Secretary Suresh Chandra said that he was in London for some work related to Nirav Modi case, that he was trying to contact him (Sana) for last 4/5 days in order to convey message of Cabinet Secretary PK Sinha that the Union Government will offer full protection to him, that there will be a drastic change on Tuesday (13th) and that he (Sana) should meet him (Suresh Chandra) on Wednesday(14th)," the CBI officer claims.
Suresh Chandra told NDTV: "This is all false. I never went to London, I don't know who Satish Sana or Rekha Rani is. It is complete fabrication."
Mr Sinha also alleges that Chief Vigilance Commissioner KV Chowdary "called Rakesh Asthana and made inquiries" and the officer told him there was not much evidence against him. Also, that Sana had claimed to have met the top vigilance officer along with his relative and discussed the Moin Qureshi case. Mr Chowdary's relative, Gorantla Ramesh, was also examined by the CBI in the same case.
"The matter is before the Supreme Court, it is inappropriate to communicate with the media in this regard," Mr Chowdary told NDTV, asked about the claims.
Mr Sinha 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.
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