New Delhi: A Delhi court on Saturday said there was not sufficient evidence to summon former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special director Rakesh Asthana in a bribery case lodged by the agency. Special Judge Sanjeev Aggarwal made the observation while taking cognisance of a charge sheet filed by the CBI, in which Asthana’s name was mentioned in Column 12. Column 12 means there is not enough evidence to make a person an accused.
The court made a similar observation about CBI Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Devender Kumar, who was arrested by the agency in 2018 and later got bail. His name was also mentioned in Column 12 of the charge sheet. The court, however, summoned “middleman” Manoj Prasad, who was arrayed as an accused in the charge sheet.
It also summoned Prasad’s brother Someshwar Srivastava and father-in-law Sunil Mittal, saying there was sufficient material to proceed against them. Both Srivastava’s and Mittal’s name had cropped up during the probe.
The court directed Prasad, Srivastava and Mittal to appear before the court on April 13. “There is sufficient evidence to proceed against Manoj Prasad, Someshwar Srivastava and Sunil Mittal. I summon them for April 13. Rakesh Asthana and Devender Kumar are not being summoned since there is no sufficient evidence against them,” the judge said.
The CBI may file a charge sheet if it finds anything against Asthana in its ongoing probe, Aggarwal said. The judge took cognisance of the charge sheet filed under sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating) and 385 (extortion) of the Indian Penal Code and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The court was earlier told by the former investigating officer of the case, A K Bassi, that there were “clinching evidence” against Asthana. The charge sheet, filed on February 11, had only arrayed Prasad as an accused.
Asthana and Kumar were named in Column 12 of the charge sheet in the case since there was not enough evidence to make them accused. Suspended DSP Kumar was the investigating officer in a 2017 case involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi.
Hyderabad-based businessman Satish Sana, who was arrested for alleged links to the Moin Qureshi money laundering case, had also claimed links to senior CBI and Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) officials. The current case of alleged bribery was lodged on a complaint of Sana.
The court had on February 12 expressed displeasure over the CBI’s investigation into the case and it had asked why the accused with bigger roles were roaming free while the probe agency had arrested its own DSP. The CBI had registered the case against Asthana on the basis of the complaint from Sana.