The CBI war is no longer only about Asthana vs Verma
New Delhi, Nov 20: Nothing surprises us anymore was a remark made by Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi. The observation was made, when a petition filed by a CBI officer was being heard in the Supreme Court on Monday.
Amidst the war between the CBI Director, Alok Verma and his deputy, Rakesh Asthana, both on leave, came a petition by Manish Kumar Sinha, who was the main supervisory officer in the case against Asthana. He challenged before the SC, his sudden transfer to Nagpur.
Sinha in his petition went on to make allegations against the National Security Advisor, a Minister of State, the law secretary and the CVC. The petition by Sinha signals the further escalation of the CBI war or the ugly public spat between Verma and Asthana.
Sinha went on to join the bandwagon of other officials in the CBI, including Verma, who knocked the doors of the Supreme Court.
The series of petitions in the Supreme Court began with Verma challenging a decision by the government to send him on leave. The court had ordered a CVC probe into the allegations made against Verma. The report was submitted last week and on Monday, Verma through his counsel replied to the same.
The other officer to challenge his transfer is Ajay Kumar Bassi, the investigating officer in the Asthana case. He challenged his transfer to Port Blair. Bassi joined the CBI as an inspector in 1999 and was later permanently absorbed into the agency. Apart from handling high profile cases such as the fake stamp paper scam, he has also probed the 2016 wedding of Rakesh Asthana's daughter at Vadodara.
While Asthana in his note to the CVC had questioned Bassi's integrity, Sinha in his petition said that Bassi had sought permission to search Asthana's home and wanted to seize his mobile phones.
After Verma and Asthana were divested of their powers, Bassi had been transferred to Port Baar on October 30. Bassi in his petition made several allegations and to back his claim, he referred to an alleged phone intercept in which an accused said, " Asthana is our man."
The other officer before the Supreme Court is Ashwini Gupta, who joined the CBI on deputation in July 2014. After Verma was sent on leave, Gupta was repatriated to the Intelligence Bureau. Asthana had in his note to the CVC claimed that Gupta's wife was a director in certain shell companies.
Gupta in his petition before the Supreme Court claimed that he had been repatriated because he was probing corruption charges against Asthana. He also said that he had unearthed crucial information, which had implicated Asthana in the Sterling Biotech case.
Apart from these officials, the SC will also hear a petition by Congress leader, Mallikarjuna Kharge, who has challenged the decision against Verma. The court is set to hear the batch of petitions on Tuesday. Will the CBI's house be put in order? It is over to the Supreme Court of India.