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High-profile cases take hit in absence of CBI top bosses

In the absence of two top CBI officers, agency Director Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana, both benched by the Government last month, probes into several high-profile cases of the agency involving bribery and special crimes have virtually been halted. The registration of cases has also steeply declined in the last one month. Besides Verma and Asthana, Additional Director AK Sharma has also been virtually made ineffective following the shake-up as he has been given the charge of inconsequential Multi-Disciplinary Monitoring Agency (MDMA) handling the Rajiv Gandhi murder case. Following the Government’s decision to bench Verma and Asthana, interim CBI Director Nageshwara Rao, a Joint Director rank official, transferred 13 officials posted in the headquarters to different places. This has also adversely affected the functioning of the agency. The Supreme Court has barred Rao from taking any major policy decision in the pendency of Verma’s petition challenging his forced leave. Sources said the major concern is lack of clarity on who will represent the CBI in the UK court which is going to pronounce its order on liquor baron Vijay Mallya extradition case on December 10. Till now, a team has not been constituted to represent the case, officials said, adding a decision is likely to be taken only after the SC pronounced its verdict on November 29. A decision by the Interpol for issuing a Red Corner Notice against Rs 14,000-crore PNB credit fraud case accused Mehul Choksi is also pending in the absence of proper representation by the CBI, sources said. Other cases in which investigation will be affected include the IRCTC bribery case involving Lalu Prasad’s family, Agusta Westland case and INX media case. Other high-profile cases being probed by the agency include NRHM scam of Uttar Pradesh and Saradha scam of West Bengal. However, the Muzaffarpur shelter home case and Manipur encounter cases are progressing well as they are being monitored by the apex court. Asthana was handling the IRCTC case, AgustaWestland probe, and Saradha ponzi scam case. “In the wake of the benching of Verma and Asthana by the Government and SC restraining interim Director from taking any major policy decision, case files are stuck as the officials are not able to seek the legal opinion from the Law Ministry or the in-house legal wing when clarity is required,” an official said. Officials said the case files move right from the investigation officers, mostly comprising DSPs and ASPs, to the SP, then to DIG, Joint Director, Additional Director, Special Director, and the Director. During the course of the investigation, the files are also sent to a parallel rank officer of the prosecution wing headed by Director of Prosecution. Even registration of cases has also taken a hit after the unprecedented action against Verma and Asthana. As many as 47 cases were registered during the period between September 23 and October 23, the date on which Verma and Asthana were sent on forced leave and restrained from taking any supervisory duty in the CBI. But during the period between October 24 and November 21, only 25 cases were registered, officials said, adding the paperwork in many cases was completed before the extraordinary action against Verma and Asthana. The registration of cases will further decline as Rao is unlikely to take any decision with regard to registration of cases. “It is fairly difficult to file charge sheets in the absence of legal opinion and clarity of decision making even in cases in which the probes have been completed as three top officials are missing in the CBI’s hierarchy,” a senior official added. read more posts… Thursday, 22 November 2018 | Rakesh K Singh | New Delhi—  

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