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Court summons CBI joint director in Moin Qureshi graft case

Asked if action taken against govt servants for whom Qureshi was middleman

Agency Report | New Delhi | 27 October, 2020 | 11:40 PM

Taking a strong view of the fact that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is still seeking time to submit the status report in a case pertaining to the agency probe against two of its former directors, a special court on Tuesday summoned the joint director along with the investigating officer on November 17.

On September 26, special judge Sanjeev Aggarwal had frowned at the lack of progress in the case and pulled up the agency for not questioning two ex-CBI directors — Ranjit Sinha and A.P. Singh — in connection with an alleged bribery case against meat exporter Moin Akhtar Qureshi. The status report on a set of questions was also sought.

On Tuesday, CBI public prosecutor V.K. Pathak sought some time to file the status report on the ground that it could not be submitted as the investigating officer was on training and thereafter examined five witnesses, but needs more time to answer the queries raised by this court.

“Time granted in the interest of justice,” the judge stated, adding that it is expected from the CBI that it would candidly answer the queries raised by this court on the last date of hearing, considering the fact that some of the queries pertain to the role of A.P. Singh and Ranjit Sinha along with alleged middle man Moin Akhtar Qureshi.

The court added, “However, considering the peculiar circumstances, let the IO along with the concerned joint director of CBI, who is supervising the investigations of this case, be summoned for answering the queries raised vide order dated 26.09.2020. Put up for further status report and further proceedings on 17.11.2020.”

In the last hearing, the special court had posed six questions to the agency seeking to know why CBI was dragging its feet in a case involving the roles of two of its ex-directors, which may lead to an inference that it is not very keen to pursue investigations with respect to them.

The court had added, “It is apparent that in this case, the role of two of its ex-directors is under scanner, i.e., A.P. Singh and Ranjit Sinha, along with alleged middleman Moin Akhtar Qureshi, which needs upfront, i.e., frank and honest investigations.”

The special CBI judge told the CBI that its image as the premier investigating agency of India is redoubtable. However, at the same time, it has to rise to the occasion to investigate the allegations against its two top ex-honchos to further enhance its eminence.

In another question, the court asked whether the role of Ranjit Sinha, who is alleged to be linked to Moin Qureshi, is also being investigated.

It also asked why the agency did not bring the probe in this case to a logical end by using the tried and tested methods of investigation like searches and custodial interrogation of potential suspects.

The probe agency was also asked if the alleged role of another of its ex-directors, Alok Verma, was being investigated. Verma allegedly stalled or did not allow the investigations to reach their logical end during his tenure.

“Why A.P. Singh has not been investigated in this case? If no definitive timeline can be given, does that mean that the investigations will go on for an indefinite period of time, so that the FIR may die its own death? Replies to all the questions in this regard are most ambivalent and evasive,” the court said.

Besides this, the CBI had, on September 26, submitted answers to nine questions posed by the judge. In its reply, the CBI told the court that so far 544 documents had been collected and 63 witnesses have been examined.

On being asked what actions have been taken against the public servants for whom Qureshi was allegedly acting as a middleman, the agency said that the investigation is being conducted and the role of such public servants is being probed.

The probe agency further told the court that many CBI officers have been examined in connection with this case, including some public servants from the Income Tax Department and the Enforcement Directorate.