The Central Vigilance Commission probe into allegations against ousted CBI director Alok Verma has, in its findings, observed that he had “clear prejudice and bias” against special director Rakesh Asthana, allegedly borne out by a October 2017 ‘secret note’ meant to hold up the latter’s promotion.
“The secret note Verma submitted to the CVC-led committee on October 21, 2017, had 23 entries while the CBI special unit provided only 22 entries. The entries are about payment made by a company called Sterling Biotech to Asthana and the special unit was looking into the matter,” ET said, citing the probe report that it had briefly access to.
Verma, however, contended in his deposition on November 9, 2018, that the CVC had a bias against him, which was “rebutted” according to those familiar with the details of the probe.
The controversial extra entry made in the secret note was the largest, of about Rs 3.38 crore, which took the total amount of the entries against Asthana in the Sterling Biotech diaries to Rs 3.94 crore. This was way beyond the amount received as rent from the flat leased to the company, which is how Asthana has sought to explain the payments.
“Prima facie notings by the IO show that M/s Thermax confirmed the commercial transaction with Sterling Group of Companies (and) did not name Shri Asthana as having any interest in these transactions,” the CVC report is said to have noted in its list of queries to Verma as part of its probe.
The queries, which have been recorded in the report, were sent on November 7, soon after the Supreme Court ordered the probe, to Verma.