Bassi in his petition, challenging his transfer to Andaman and Nicobar Islands on October 24, has claimed that Somesh Prasad — brother of Dubai-based middlemen Manoj Prasad who was arrested in the case — was also in contact with a high ranking official of R&AW. Giving the sequence of events since Hyderabad based businessman Sathish Babu Sana filed the complaint against Asthana and CBI DSP Devendra Kumar, the petition stated that the businessman was harassed during the investigation of case against controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi and had paid bribe in lieu of relief from the SIT headed by Asthana.
He alleged that there were five acceptances of illegal gratification in the name of Asthana through the two middlemen and during investigation, role of another high ranking bureaucrat Samanta Goel, Spl Secretary of R&AW (Research and Analysis Wing), cropped up. “Investigations revealed that there is a certain link between the summons issued to the Complainant (Sana), illegal gratification obtained by the above named public servant and relief provided to Sathish Babu Sana,” the plea said. Bassi said that several whatsapp messages found in the phone of Manoj Prasad revealed the link between middlemen, Asthana and Goel.
“Whatsapp messages are available in the mobile handsets seized from the accused Manoj Prasad. During the investigation technical surveillance was also done and CDRs were also studied. Investigation revealed that immediately after the news broke out on arrest of Manoj Prasad in the late night on October 16, Somesh made immediate calls to Goel, who made calls to Asthana,” Bassi claimed in the petition and gave details of the call records. He said that all the these transcripts are available with the CBI but “there is a strong chance that they may not place the same on record”.
Referring to the statement given by Sana, Bassi has said that it has revealed “shocking details of alleged corruption and illegal gratification” by Asthana in collusion and conspiracy with other co-accused — Somesh Prasad and Manoj Prasad — and other unknown accused persons. “The said statement also reveals payment of huge amount to the tune of crores of rupees towards illegal gratification. The statement clearly implicates Rakesh Asthana and Devender Kumar, both officers of the CBI,” he claimed.
He has alleged that probe conducted by him revealed that act of demand and acceptance of illegal gratification primarily pertains to two distinct periods of December 2017 and October 2018. “There are two instances of acceptance of bribe in December 2017 totalling to Rs 2.95 crores and three instances of acceptance of bribe in October 2018 totalling to around Rs 36 Lakh,” the plea alleged. Bassi has also claimed in his plea that all the officers who were part of investigation of FIR against Asthana and Kumar were “summarily transferred without any valid or cogent reason”.
Bassi, whose petition was mentioned before a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi contended that his transfer order is “mala fide and derails a sensitive probe” and added that allegations against Asthana are “grave”. The bench also comprising Justices U U Lalit and K M Joseph said “it will look into urgent listing of the plea” after advocate Sunil Fernandes sought listing of the petition on November 2. In the petition it is stated that “Bassi bears a reasonable apprehension that he and his team members and senior officers, would be implicated in the same”. It further alleged that Bassi was being subjected to intimidation and veiled threats by the present Investigating Officer.
“The manner of transfer showed vindictiveness because the fact that the name of Asthana and Joint Director Sai Manohar were cropping up in the false statement of Sana. The applicant herein is being subjected to intimidation and veiled threats by the present Investigating Officer,” it said. Bassi, said in his plea that he believed that he will be made a “scapegoat and victimised” for discharging his duties in the FIR pertaining to Asthana and “grave and irreparable harm and injury” shall befall Bassi if the application is not allowed.
“Asthana is the main reason why extension was given to Manohar in spite of objections from Director CBI. Now Sai Manohar is advising and driving the investigation of this case and trying to frame the entire investigation team for doing their job honestly and sincerely,” it said. The plea alleged that the all pervasive manipulations and machinations inside CBI to save some select officers from their misdeeds and penalise officers like Bassi for conscientiously carrying out their duties, have forced him to move the top court. It also sought direction to constitute a Special Investigative Team (SIT) which would conduct an impartial investigation in the FIR.