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    Contradiction in CBI entries: CVC probe alleges bias against Rakesh Asthana

    Synopsis

    CBI probe had found biggest Sterling Biotech entry did not name Asthana; CVC probe says Asthana promotion ‘genesis’ of fight.

    Agencies
    Alok Verma contended in his deposition on November 9, 2018, that the CVC had a bias against him.
    New Delhi: The Central Vigilance Commission probe into allegations against ousted CBI director Alok Verma has, in its findings, observed that he had “clear prejudice and bias” against special director Rakesh Asthana, allegedly borne out by a October 2017 ‘secret note’ meant to hold up the latter’s promotion.

    The probe report, ET has reliably gathered, has found that the secret note Verma submitted to the CVC-led selection committee on October 21, 2017, had 23 entries while the CBI special unit had provided only 22 entries. The entries are about payments made by a company called Sterling Biotech to Asthana and the special unit was looking into the matter.

    Verma, however, contended in his deposition on November 9, 2018, that the CVC had a bias against him, which was “rebutted” according to those familiar with the details of the probe.

    The controversial extra entry made in the secret note was the largest, of about Rs 3.38 crore, which took the total amount of the entries against Asthana in the Sterling Biotech diaries to Rs 3.94 crore. This was way beyond the amount received as rent from the flat leased to the company, which is how Asthana has sought to explain the payments.

    But the CVC probe found that as per the case diary of the investigating officer, this particular transaction did not name Asthana, and were between another company, Thermax, and Sterling Biotech.

    “Prima facie notings by the IO show that M/s Thermax confirmed the commercial transaction with Sterling Group of Companies (and) did not name Shri Asthana as having any interest in these transactions,” the CVC report is said to have noted in its list of queries to Verma as part of its probe.

    The queries, which have been recorded in the report, were sent on November 7, soon after the Supreme Court ordered the probe, to Verma.

    The CVC is believed to have noted that Verma “chose not to reply to these queries”.

    Verma’s reply, which came a day later on November 8, does address another query on how the secret note was prepared by the special unit for the October 21, 2017 meeting — which was to decide on Asthana’s promotion to special director — when the investigating officer has recorded that he received the material only on October 23, 2017.

    Here, Verma has claimed that the special unit was conducting “discreet verification” and that the IO only took possession of the records when a case could be registered.

    The CVC wanted to examine the then DIG of the special unit but he was not made available to the probe, added sources.

    On the issue of how 22 entries became 23 entries, the probe notes that Verma “maintained silence”.

    The first half of the report is devoted to the issue of Asthana’s promotion, which the CVC probe monitored by Justice AK Patnaik, observed was the “genesis of the recent developments in CBI”.

    The CVC probe, ET has learnt, also took exception to the fact that Verma did not disclose the source of the secret note to the Commission to establish its authenticity despite repeated reminders.

    Even after the probe, CVC has asked the CBI to submit a report on the matter. “Irrespective of the source of the said secret note, report has been called for its merits from CBI and appropriate action would

    be taken on receipt of the report,” the probe is said to have observed. While flagging off “prejudice and bias” against Asthana, the CVC is believed to have observed that “the Commission has no brief for any officer”
    (Catch all the Business News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on The Economic Times.)

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    9 Comments on this Story

    Anthony611 days ago
    The CVC can say anything now against Alok Verma as he cannot officially defend his actions. The strangest that happened so far is the raid of th CBI office at midnight. Was it just dramatics or Alok Verma was going to file an FIR in the Rafael case in the morning.
    Did the Govts legal team not know that the the CBI chief cannot be sent on forced leave and that if he had to be removed from his office the high powered committee was to be approached. They knew all this but Mr Verma had to be removed fast and quick so they could do what they want ie.,bring in some slave oficer who transfers the present investigation officers and destroys evidence. You must remember that this haste of removing Mr Verma is apparent because after his re-instatement he only took charege and the panel was called and he was removed from the post. They could not let Verma be there even for a day. What was Alok Verma going to do? Alok Verma was going to file an FIR naming the PM as accused becuase he was obligated to do so by law on the complaint filed by Prashant Bhushan.
    Sajid Mubashir612 days ago
    For the information of dear media professional. There is a Vigilance Manual that you can download & study. It defines " vigilance matter" very specifically & unambiguously. The vigilance system address issues related to Vigilance Matters. If they do other things, well we all do many extra curricular activities, like the media is also doing.
    Udaysinh G612 days ago
    Recommend reconstitute CBI with new honest faces.
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