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By the Way

CBI; ragging parrot

Special Director Rakesh Asthana, a 1984-batch IPS officer of the Gujarat cadre, has filed a complaint against his boss CBI Chief Alok Verma, a 1979-batch officer of the AGMUT cadre. Senior officials in the PMO and Home Ministry are all perturbed by the animosity among the officers. The spat started over the news of Nitin Jayantilal Sandesara and his brother Chetan, owners of the Vadodara-based Sterling Biotech group, the key accused in a `5,300 crore bank loan fraud, having fled Dubai despite the CBI and ED filing extradition pleas. Notably, only two days earlier, CBI chief Alok Verma had accused Rakesh Asthana in six corruption cases, with the Sterling Biotech fraud topping the list. Other allegations include that Asthana tried to deflect tax proceedings against Sandesara family; that Asthana’s family got undue benefits like flying in the company jet and free air tickets; his alleged contacts with Undesirable Contact Men (UCM), especially so-called journalist Upendra Rai who is charged under the Official Secrets Act and with money laundering. Asthana did not lag behind and complained to the Central Vigilance Commission about Verma’s interference in raids against the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav last year in the IRCTC case, which apparently delayed the raiding party for hours. Asthana had also apprised the government of progress in cases under his watch following a complaint by Rajya Sabha member Subramanian Swamy that the agency was holding up investigations in key cases. Everybody in North-South block is observing how CBI has been put under the radar of the CVC, where CVC chief KV Chowdary and his fellow commissioners are carefully examining the complaint. The end point in this whole sordid saga is that KV Chowdary is said to be close to a very powerful Cabinet minister. It may, therefore, not be farfetched to assume that the result of this war is a foregone conclusion but what about the reputation of the CBI in India and the world.

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