CBI Deputy Inspector General (Nagpur) Manish Kumar Sinha, on Monday, 19 November, filed a fresh petition in the Supreme Court, demanding an urgent hearing on his application challenging his transfer. The petition brought to light a conversation between Sinha and Sathish Sana, the Hyderabad-based businessman who levelled bribery allegations against CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana, that indicates the government was trying to influence the key complainant in the bribery case during the CVC probe against Asthana.
Sana, who alleged that he paid Rs 3 crore as bribe to CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana, told MK Sinha that he was approached by the Union Law Secretary, Suresh Chandra, on 8 November 2018 through a WhatsApp call.
During the conversation, Chandra specified that he was merely conveying the message of Cabinet Secretary PK Sinha and assured that the “Union Government would offer full protection” to Sana – the petition states. Chandra also allegedly told Sana to meet him in Delhi on 14 November 2018.
Sana sought MK Sinha’s advice and also shared that “he has been worried” ever since the conversation between Chandra and him panned out. MK Sinha subsequently asked him to speak to the present CBI DIG Tarun Gauba.
The Union Law Secretary, Chandra, spoke to Sana just four days before the CVC report on the allegations against the CBI Director Alok Verma was supposed to be submitted in the Supreme Court on 12 November 2018?
Sinha’s petition to the SC also mentions that Chandra told Sana “there would be a drastic change on Tuesday (13 November) and that he (Sana) should meet him (Suresh Chandra) on Wednesday (14 November)“.
The petition, however, doesn’t clarify what Chandra was referring to when he said “drastic change”.
Sana had earlier in his statement – under section 164 before the Magistrate – claimed that he paid a bribe to the tune of Rs 3 crore to Asthana through a middleman. He had – through an affidavit in the SC – expressed his fear that the new CBI team might compel him to change his statement under section 164, and therefore, demanded police protection.
What the Petition States
The Applicant (MK Sinha) became aware that while the proceedings were going on in the CVC against the Petitioner herein – Shri Alok Verma, the Union Law Secretary Shri Suresh Chandra waded in to the issue. On 8.11.2018, the office of Shri Sana was repeatedly approached by one Ms Rekha Rani, IAS officer of Andhra Pradesh Cadre, claiming that the Union Law Secretary, who is in London, wants to speak to Shri Sana. The London number of the Union Law Secretary was communicated.
Sana spoke to him on WhatsApp on the evening of 08.11.2018. The Union Law Secretary Shri Suresh Chandra said that he was in London for some work related to Nirav Modi case, that he was trying to contact him for last 4/5 days in order to convey message of Cabinet Secretary Shri 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), that even IB is not able to track his (Sana) movement…The call was ended by Sana promising to call him again later in the night.
Once again Suresh Chandra enquired with Ms Rekha Rani on 13th November and asked her on presence of Sana. It appears that Shri Suresh Chandra was more forthcoming this time and requested Ms Rekha Rani to ensure that Sana be helpful, that all his future problems will be taken care of and that he should be brought to Delhi on Thursday or Friday ie, 15/16.11.2018. This last sentence is as disclosed to Sana by Ms Rekha Rani.
Shri Sana informed the Applicant herein and sought to know what action is to be taken. The Applicant had questioned Shri Sana on why Ms Rekha Rani was given the task of contacting him. He responded that the office of one of his companies has its office at a premises which are rented by Ms Rekha Rani and that this detail is also available with Ministry of Corporate Affairs. He was worried but the Applicant told him that he is no longer supervising this case and that he should talk to present DIG and gave his official number.
SC Turns Down MK Sinha’s Request for Urgent Hearing
MK Sinha moved the SC on Monday, 19 November, requesting an urgent hearing on the petition in connection with his transfer to Nagpur from the CBI headquarters in Delhi. But the SC turned it down.
Sinha was removed overnight from the CBI team investigating Asthana’s case and was transferred to Nagpur.
In his petition, he demanded formation of a Special Investigative Team (SIT) to investigate Asthana’s bribery case, monitored by the SC, for a fair and unbiased probe.
The petitioner also said,
“There is a pressing need to fix a timeline for investigation of such cases so that premier investigating agencies such as Central Bureau of Investigation doesn’t become ‘Centre for Bogus Investigation’ and Enforcement Directorate doesn’t becomes ‘Extortion Directorate’.”
In reference to the transfer of three main CBI officers investigating Asthana’s case, including Sinha, he said that “it further reflects that how levers of CBI is controlled by powerful persons just to fit it into their personal objectives of exonerating or implicating certain individuals, irrespective of the merit of the case.”
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