The Delhi High Court has sought replies from the Centre’s Narendra Modi government and the federal probe agency CBI on a plea seeking a probe by Special Investigation Team in the alleged illegal phone tapping of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval by the CBI.
The petitioner, Sarthak Chaturvedi, also claimed that phones of several high profile government officials including NSA Doval were tapped during the feud between the then CBI Director Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana hit media headlines. Terming the allegations extremely dangerous, the Delhi High Court bench comprising Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice VK Rao issued a notice to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the CBI.
The petitioner, according to a news report by PTI, claimed that a special unit of the CBI, which handles phone tapping and technical surveillance, was aware of communications between the Ajit Doval and Rakesh Asthana during his feud with Alok Verma. Pathak said that even CBI DIG Manish Sinha had confessed in his application before the Supreme Court that the CBI tapped Doval’s phone.
Sinha, who was investigating a bribery case against Asthana had moved the Supreme Court against his abrupt transfer by the interim CBI chief Nageshwara Rao, who was appointed by the Centre’s Narendra Modi government after Verma was removed in a midnight coup. Sinha, according to Indian Express, had told the top court probing a bribery case against Asthana, said in his petition that the surveillance had stumbled upon a conversation involving R&AW officer Samant Goel in which he was heard saying that the PMO had managed the CBI issue. He said that the same night the entire CBI team involved in the probe against Asthana was removed. Sinha in his petition also said that Doval informed Asthana about the FIR prompting the latter to make a request to NSA that he should not be arrested. “The NSA informed Rakesh Asthana about the FIR and Asthana reportedly made a request to NSA that he should not be arrested,” the DIG claimed in his petition.
Sinha had also told the top court that he had documents that will ‘shock’ the court adding that his transfer to Nagpur was to change ‘the course of the investigation’ since the agency’s special director Rakesh Asthana was under scrutiny. This had prompted the Chief Justice of India to say that nothing shocked him anymore. The CJI, however, refused to give an urgent hearing to his petition.
Another shocking revelation made in Sinha’s petition was how the middleman Manoj Prasad, who allegedly paid Rs 2 crore to Rakesh Asthana, bragged about his contact with Doval and taunted that ‘you people have no standing whatsoever and therefore should stay within limits.’ The petition read, “He (Manoj) claimed that recently his brother Somesh and Samant Goel, helped the NSA Shri Ajit Doval on an important personal matter.”
The CBI had to obtain an approval from the Home Secretary for the phone tapping. The agency was allowed to carry out the phone without the Home Secretary’s permission by invoking the ’emergency clause.’ However, would have had to seek approval within seven days failing the telecom provider fails to divert individuals’ calls to the agency.