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Verma-Asthana face-off leaves a dent on CBI's image

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The unprecedented feud between the two top officers of the -- and Special -- started last year when the induction of officers recommended by Verma was objected by

Verma who had no experience in the had recommended some officers from the be inducted in the agency but Asthana, a 1984-batch cadre officer, objected to it.

During his tenure, Verma saw material which allegedly indicated Asthana's role in "at least half-a-dozen" cases which he put forth as an unsigned note in the meeting of Central Vigilance Commission, which was deciding the promotion of as Special Director, making him number two in the agency.

This included details of alleged payoffs to several officers, purportedly including Asthana, from Gujarat-based The details were found in a diary recovered during searches at places linked to the firm, which is facing Its promoters remain absconding.

The Commission took note but cleared Asthana's promotion as Special unanimously.

In July last year, the CVC had called Asthana to decide promotions of several officers as Verma was out of the country but the Director denied permission saying Asthana cannot represent him in his absence.

Meanwhile, Asthana who was heading the Special Investigation Team probing sensitive cases such as loan default case, Westland bribery scandal, bribery case allegedly involving a former CBI Director, approached the in July alleging bribe of Rs 2 crore was paid to Verma to help an accused, Sathish Babu

was being probed in a bribery case involving

In October, gave a statement before a levelling allegations of corruption against Asthana. In his statement, he alleged that two brothers based in had offered to help him in return of bribe payment of Rs 5 crore.

He claimed that the brothers allegedly had known Asthana who was heading probe against him and also gave details of payment to the two brothers.

During surveillance, the CBI claimed to have unearthed WhatsApp exchanges, phone intercepts and details of meetings which allegedly indicated involvement of Asthana with the brothers and senior officers of other intelligence agencies.

While all this was happening, a delegation of former ministers Yashwant Sinha, and activist met seeking a probe in the Rafale aircraft deal. The sources expressed unhappiness over the meeting next day.

Meanwhile, the agency on October 15, 2017 registered an FIR against Asthana and next day arrested one of the alleged middleman brothers Manoj Prasad, when he landed in

On the basis of information, the CBI carried out searches in its own headquarters at the office of Devendra Kumar, the investigating of the case involving Sana, on October 20.

On October 22, Kumar was arrested on allegations of "fabricating the statement" of Sana.

He approached the next seeking to quash the FIR against him. On the same days, the sent a report recommending that both the officers -- Verma and Asthana -- be divested of powers.

Based on the recommendation, the in a late night development divested both the officers of their powers and sent them on leave.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, January 08 2019. 16:40 IST