Sinha’s lawyer says ‘shocking details’ in the plea. Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi retorts ‘nothing shocks us’.
New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)’s factional feud took a drastic turn Monday as CBI deputy inspector general M.K. Sinha filed an application in the Supreme Court and sought to implicate several top functionaries of the Narendra Modi government including National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Central Vigilance Commissioner K.V. Chaudhary, for alleged interference in the functioning of the investigative agency.
In his application, Sinha donned the hat of a whistleblower and narrated alleged instances of interference by Doval, minister of state for coal and mines Haribhai Chaudhary, and Union law secretary Suresh Chandra.
While mentioning the case, Sinha’s lawyer said there are “shocking details” in the plea. To this, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said, “nothing shocks us.”
Sinha submitted that if contents of statements made by businessman Satish Sana, who accused CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana of corruption in the Moin Qureshi case, are proved to be true it would “reflect very poorly on our criminal justice delivery system in general and the CBI in particular.”
Sinha was transferred to Nagpur in a midnight move on 23 October.
The officer said that the conspiracy in the Moin Qureshi case is symptomatic of a larger malaise. He said the investigation team has been victimised because of its impartiality and diligence.
Selected extracts from Sinha’s plea are reproduced below.
On interference in probe
“The manner, timing and the speed with which overnight, in a single stroke, the investigation team was disbanded without assigning any formal reason, and all the main team members of the team were thrown out to remote places in a punitive and stigmatic manner, itself portends very ominous signals, not only for the professional career of investigating officers but also the investigation of the entire case. 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.”
“It is beyond the capability of any agency to do a fair and just work in this case under the present circumstances unless benevolent protection of Hon’ble Court is extended. Investigation was not allowed to take its course and pace. The efforts of the agency to get evidences through secret operations were negated. The persons involved were cautioned. Crucial evidence could not be secured. Investigation, going forward, is certainly a daunting and an uphill task. In fact, the Investigation of this case appears derailed and doomed unless this Hon’ble Court pro-actively intervenes.”
On Ajit Doval
“On the morning of 16.10.2018, the accused Shri Manoj Prasad (alleged middleman) was intercepted at Delhi Airport on his arrival from Dubai and brought to CBI HQ. During the first few hours of his arrival at CBI HO, Manoj was garrulous and arrogant, both at the same time, and in equal measure. He was interviewed by the applicant and others. He tried his best to ward off the investigation by dropping names of ‘high and mighty’ and mentioning his ‘top contacts’ to create fear in our mind.
“The relevant conversation of his initial outburst is being placed on record here. As per Manoj Prasad, Shri Dineshwar Prasad, father of Manoj and Somesh, retired as Joint Secretary, R&AW and has close acquaintance with the present National Security Advisor Shri Ajit K. Doval (“NSA”). This was one of the first things Manoj claimed on being brought to CBI HQ and expressed complete surprise and anger as to how CBI could pick him up, despite his close links with the NSA Shri Doval.
“He started bragging and claimed that his brother Shri Somesh is very close to an officer at Dubai (name withheld) and to Samant Goel, presently Special Secretary, R&AW and he can get us ‘finished off’ / “kicked out’.
“Manoj taunted us that you people have no standing whatsoever and therefore should “stay in limits” and let him free. He claimed that recently his brother Somesh and Samant Goel, helped the NSA Shri Ajit Doval on an important personal matter. He further claimed that India opted out of a contest from INTERPOL. Regarding genuineness of this claim of Manoj, no attempt was made to verify the claim regarding the NSA Shri Doval.”
“Ultimately, the proposal seeking permission to search was put on record by the IO on 22.10.2018. However, the same was not allowed and a query was raised by the Director as to why the searches are to be done.
“Upon being queried, the Director/Petitoner herein replied that he was not getting clearance from the NSA/Shri Doval. It was then resolved, as a face saving measure, to take recourse to the Quashing Petition, filed by Shri Rakesh Asthana, pending before the Hon’ble Delhi High Court, which was coming up for hearing on 23.10.2018. That is why, during the hearing dated 23.10.2018, the CBI had insisted that the electronic devices such as the cell phone sets be preserved.
“While the search was on, a phone call was received from Director CBI instructing to stop the search. At that time, the Applicant herein was sitting in the BS& FC office and asked the Director, to which the Director replied that this instruction has come from NSA Shri Doval.”
On Haribhai Chaudhary
“On the forenoon of 20.10.2018, the Applicant herein interviewed the Complainant- Shri Sana at CBI HO. He stood by the contents of his complaint with respect to CBI officials. That apart, he also claimed that:-
“Sometime in first fortnight of June 2018, a few crores of rupees was paid to Shri Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary, presently Minister of State for Coal and Mines in Government of India.
“As per Shri Sana, Shri Haribhai had intervened with the Senior officers of CBI through the office of the Minister of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension [“MOS (P)”], to whom, apparently, the Director – CBI reports to.
“The money was paid through one Vipul of Ahmedabad. These facts were disclosed by Sana to me on 20.10.2018 in the forenoon. I immediately reported the matter to the Director and the AD (AK Sharma).
“Discreet enquiries were conducted and a source informed that there are calls intercepted by another central agency in first fortnight of June, wherein there is talk between Shri K Laxma Reddy, MLA, Medchal, Hyderabad, and Shri Sana on money being sent to the tune of one or two crores.”
On K.V. Chaudhary
“Shri Sathish Babu Sana also disclosed that he met the CVC Shri KV Chowdhary alongwith one Gorantla Ramesh (close relative of CVC Shri KV Chowdhary and owner of Delhi Public School Hyderabad, as per Sana) somewhere in Delhi (exact date and location was not informed) and that they discussed Moin Qureshi’s case. As per Sana, in the year 2011, Shri Gorantla Ramesh sold some land and gave around Rs 4 crores out of the said sale consideration to Shri Sana, in the same month, in which Shri Sana had given Rs 50 Lakhs to Moin Qureshi. Therefore, Shri Gorantla Ramesh was examined by CBI in the Moin Qureshi’s case.
“As per Shri Sana, subsequently, the CVC Shri KV Chowdhary called Shri Rakesh Asthana to his residence and made inquiries. Shri Rakesh Asthana informed to the CVC that there is not much in evidence against them. There is no illegality in this, but the same is put on record here for the sake of completeness. No verification was undertaken and the same is based on disclosure made by Sana.”
On Suresh Chandra
“Additionally, the Applicant 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.
“Shri 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, that he also tried to communicate the message through one Chamundeshwarnath with whom he met in his London hotel. 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 i.e., 15/16.11.2018. This last (previous) sentence is as disclosed to Sana by Ms Rekha Rani.”