Rakesh Asthana case: Polygraph report says bribe claim appears truthful

Jay Mazoomdaar
The case against Asthana, alleging criminal conspiracy, corruption and criminal misconduct under sections of Prevention of Corruption Act, was registered in October 2018. (Source: Rakesh Asthana/Facebook/File)

A polygraph test conducted on Hyderabad businessman Satish Babu Sana, whose complaint led to the registration of a corruption case against former CBI special director Rakesh Asthana last year, has concluded that Sana’s claim of paying a bribe through a businessman for protection in a 2016 case against meat exporter Moin Qureshi appears to be truthful, The Indian Express has learnt.

The CBI has time until December 8 to complete its investigation in the case. The agency, it is learnt, has concluded a major part of the investigation and is awaiting replies to Letters Rogatory (LRs) sent to the US and UAE.

It is learnt that polygraph (lie-detector) tests were conducted on Sana on March 12 and 13. Tests were also conducted on Sunil Mittal, father-in-law of alleged middleman Manoj Prasad, and accused Someshwar Srivastava, Prasad’s brother, on March 8 and 13, respectively. Punit Kharbanda, a witness in the case, was tested twice, on March 7 and April 5.

The Forensic Psychological Assessment and Forensic Statement Analysis Report of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory, submitted in the third week of April, concluded that Sana and Kharbanda appear to be truthful about the delivery of money for the purpose of getting a favourable CBI decision.

On Mittal and Srivastava, the test report furnished no opinion because their statements were insufficient, not revealing information about the incident under investigation.

In January this year, the CBI had moved an application in Delhi’s Patiala House Courts, seeking consent for conducting polygraph tests on the accused and the complainant in the case. While others consented, Manoj Prasad, accused of accepting the bribe money, refused to undergo a polygraph test.

Article 20(3) of the Constitution and Section 161(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure are often cited for protection from self-incrimination.

When The Indian Express sought comments from Asthana’s lawyer Amit Anand Tiwari on the polygraph test, he said: “I have no knowledge of any polygraph test. I didn’t deal with the trial court matter at any stage. But the issue (polygraph test) never came up in any of the hearings in the High Court. They (CBI) have submitted a status report (to court) but I do not know the contents of the said report.”

The CBI spokesperson is yet to respond to a query on the status of the polygraph test results.

On October 9, the Delhi High Court gave the CBI two months to wrap up the investigation. This is the second extension after the court allowed four months in May. Earlier, in January, the court refused to quash the FIR against Asthana and asked the CBI to conclude the probe within 10 weeks.

The case against Asthana, alleging criminal conspiracy, corruption and criminal misconduct under sections of Prevention of Corruption Act, was registered in October 2018.

Sana had alleged that he paid a bribe through Dubai-based businessman Manoj Prasad to get relief in a case based on an FIR lodged by the CBI against meat exporter Moin Akhtar Qureshi and others. In the Qureshi matter, there were allegations of receipt of illegal gratification from various persons for securing favours from influential public servants.

The then CBI director Alok Verma and his deputy Asthana had accused each other of corruption. Both were sent on forced leave by the government in October 2018. On January 10, 2019, Verma was removed as CBI director and, a week later, Asthana was transferred to the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security.