The allegations against CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana are getting murkier. In a new affidavit submitted to Supreme Court, Prashant Bhushan said that the officer’s son Ankush Asthana was working with the controversial company Sterling Biotech as Assistant Manager during the 2010-2012 and his daughter’s wedding party was also conducted in the farmhouse owned by the company.
CBI Director’s stand was that Asthana should not be promoted and should be removed from the organization when the agency itself was probing the case against Sterling Biotech.
Rakesh Asthana’s name was found in the bribe payout diary seized from the Sterling-Sandesara Group of companies and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered two First Information Report (FIR)s against the companies. Prashant Bhushan alleged that “Dairy 2011” contained entries of Rs.3.88 crores to Asthana in many installments when he was Surat Police Commissioner. The first FIR was against three Income Tax commissioners for accepting bribes from the companies and the second FIR was cheating banks to the tune of more than Rs.5000 crores.
The matter became a controversy in October when CBI Director Alok Verma objected to the promotion of Rakesh Asthana as CBI’s Special Director. CBI Director’s stand was that Asthana should not be promoted and should be removed from the organization when the agency itself was probing the case against Sterling Biotech. Overruling the Director’s objection, the Central Vigilance Commissioner and the Government approved the Gujarat cadre officer Asthana’s promotion with lightning speed. The Supreme Court Bench comprising of Justices RK Agrawal and AM Sapre is hearing the case on November 24. In the previous hearing on November 17, Prashant Bhushan sought time to file an additional affidavit.
In the new affidavit filed on November 22, Prashant Bhushan produced the resume of son Ankush Asthana. In the resume uploaded in LinkedIn portal, the son said that he was Assistant Manager in Sterling Biotech during 2010-2012. This document clearly exposes that Asthana has close links with the controversial company, backed by Congress leader Ahmed Patel. CBI’s FIR also shows that Ahmed Patel’s son-in-law Irfan’s payouts to accused Income Tax officials. The FIR also shows that money trail with Ahmed Patel’s close associates like Gagan Dhawan.
Prashant Bhushan also produced the Gujarat based newspaper reports about the lavish wedding party of Asthana’s daughter in November 2016 at the farmhouse owned by Sterling Biotech Group. The 17-page additional affidavit filed by Prashant Bhushan is published below: