A Delhi court has asked the CBI why it had not questioned its former directors — Ranjit Sinha, AP Singh and Alok Verma — in a bribery case registered in February 2017 against meat exporter Moin Qureshi.
In its FIR, the Central probe agency had alleged that Qureshi also worked as a middleman for “certain public servants” and was helped by Singh who retired as CBI chief in 2012.
CBI special court judge Sanjeev Aggarwal posed a set of questions to the agency as to “why CBI is dragging its feet in a case involving the roles of its ex-directors”, which may lead to an inference that it is not very keen to pursue investigations involving them.
The matter would be now heard on October 27.
“It is apparent that the role of two of its ex-directors is under scanner i.e. AP Singh and Ranjit Sinha along with alleged middleman Moin Akhtar Qureshi, which needs upfront i.e. frank and honest investigations,” the judge said on September 26.
The court also wanted to know why the agency did not bring investigations in the case to a logical end by using tried and tested methods of investigation such as searches and custodial interrogation of key suspects.
It asked the CBI as to whether the alleged role played by Verma in stalling the investigation had been investigated.
The judge asked the agency whether in the absence of a timeline, “investigations will go on for an indefinite period, so that the FIR may die its own death, as reply to all the questions are most ambivalent and evasive”.
The agency had replied to nine questions posed by the CBI judge on an earlier occasion when he had frowned at the slow pace of investigation. It had sought to know about the details of the witnesses questioned and whether an arrest had been proposed.
The CBI told the court on September 26 that so far 544 documents had been collected and 63 (including three named as accused) witnesses had been examined. It said that the previous investigating officer Devinder Kumar, deputy superintendent of police, had submitted a proposal to arrest Moin Akhtar Qureshi, Pradeep Koneru, Aditya Sharma and Sathish Babu Sana.
During the pendency of the arrest proposal, a case was registered against former CBI special director Rakesh Asthana and the proposal could not be processed. On the final timeline for the completion of investigation in the case, the agency said the documents collected were voluminous and a number of prospective witnesses are yet to be examined.
The case against Asthana was part of a feud involving him and Alok Verma, which led to the exit of the two top officers of the CBI from the agency.
“The investigation of the case may, therefore, take substantial time. Hence, at this stage, proposing a definitive timeline would neither be feasible nor conducive for thorough and impartial investigation in the present case. However, all efforts shall be made to conclude the investigation at the earliest,” the agency said.