Rakesh Asthana
Rakesh Asthana|IANS (File photo)

Why no lie detector test on Asthana? Court asks CBI


New Delhi, February 19, 2020

A Delhi court on Wednesday asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) why it did not conduct "physiological and lie detector examination" on former CBI special director Rakesh Asthana in connection with a bribery case.

Special CBI Judge Sanjeev Aggarwal directed the Investigating Officer (IO), Ajay Kumar Bassi, to appear before the court on February 28 to explain the case diary maintained by him.

The agency apprised the court that Asthana did not join the probe despite being summoned repeatedly.

The court further asked why CBI did not seize the mobile phone of accused Someshwar Prasad. "If he was not cooperating, why did you not arrest him then and there?" the court asked.

The judge said that Somesh Prasad's father-in-law, Sunil Mittal, whose name cropped up in the case seems to be fictional character emerging from a "MI-6" and "007-James Bond movies".

The court further asked CBI, while talking about Someshwar Prasad, why it was showing "so much indulgence to someone who is isn't cooperating and did not even share his phone".

The observations came when the court was holding arguments on the point of taking cognisance over the charge sheet filed by the agency in connection with the case relating to the allegations of bribery against the agency's former special director Asthana and officer Devendra Kumar.

The CBI chargesheet mentions former CBI director Asthana and another officer Devendra Kumar in column 12, that is, persons against whom sufficient evidence is not available.

The CBI on October 15, 2018, had registered an FIR against Asthana for allegedly accepting a bribe from an accused probed by him in return for ensuring relief and a clean chit in the case.

The case against Asthana was lodged after Hyderabad-based businessman Sana in his complaint to the CBI had alleged that he paid a bribe of Rs 2 crore to Asthana so that he could be spared any action in an investigation linked to meat exporter Moin Qureshi.

The money was allegedly paid over a 10-month period, starting from December 2017. Sana was being investigated by an SIT team headed by Asthana when he had accused him of accepting bribes. As per Sana's complaint, he had met Prasad, who claimed to have good relations with Asthana. Sana also alleged that Prasad's brother would help him in getting a clean chit from Asthana.

Sana, a close aide of Qureshi, was arrested on July 27 last year by the Enforcement Directorate in a money laundering case.

In October 2018, the battle between the then Director Alok Verma and Special Director Asthana became public, forcing the government to intervene in the matter and transfer both officers.