The Kingfisher kingpin, Vijay Mallya is in the news again. He had appeared in front of a UK court on 20 November where dates for his extradition trial were confirmed for eight days starting from 4 December, reports The Times of India. Mallya had fled to the UK in March 2016 and is on bail until 4 December.
Incidentally, a senior professor from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London cited the recent promotion of Gujarat-cadre IPS officer Rakesh Asthana as the CBI special director to emphasise on the “lack of integrity” in the way “criminal investigations and prosecutions are carried out in India”, reports The Indian Express.
Besides what has been pointed out by Professor Lawrence Saez in his letter, Vijay Mallya has cited several other reasons like that ‘inhuman conditions’ of Indian jails to stop his extradition and equated himself with Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra and Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh. Both of them are indicted in money laundering cases and according to Mallya are political targets like himself.
What does the letter point out?
Professor Saez identifies himself as an eminent expert on the governmental and political issues in South Asia. He is also a member of the World Economic Forum’s India Agenda Council and Mallya’s lawyer, Anand Doobay had engaged him for his expert opinion.
Although Saez could not be reached for any comments, his statement confirmed that he received instructions from Mr Anand Doobay and on behalf of Boutique Law LLP regarding the ongoing extradition proceedings against Vijay Mallya.
Anand Doobay of Boutique Law Firm confirmed Professor Saez’s association with the case.
Saez has claimed that serious concerns exist about the independent functioning of some criminal investigation agencies like that of the Enforcement Directorate and Central Bureau of Investigation in India.
The letter also indicated an overall lack of integrity in the manner criminal investigations are carried out in India.
Saez pointed out that it was newly appointed CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana, who is handling Vijay Mallya’s case, does not have a clean background.
Why the hue and cry over Rakesh Asthana?
Gujarat cadre Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Rakesh Asthana was appointed as the Special Director of the CBI on 22 October. He was working as the Additional Director of CBI and was handling important investigations like that of the AgustaWestland probe.
The Logical Indian reported about his appointment as the Special Director of CBI which gave rise to a number of protests. Public interest lawyer and activist, Prashant Bhushan also criticised the move.
Asthana’s name is involved in the Sterling Biotech money laundering case that the CBI had itself registered an FIR against.
The FIR was filed against three top Income Tax Commissioners for accepting bribes from the Gujarat-based Sterling Biotech and Sandesara Group of Companies. The FIR mentions a “Diary 2011” found during raids on a company that bears the name of Asthana.
A meeting that was held on 21 October, of the CVC Selection Committee, chaired by the Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) K V Chowdhary did not approve Asthana’s promotion due to a two-page note, submitted by the CBI Director pointing at his association with the Sterling Biotech case.
The Selection Committee is made to ensure impartiality in promotions, transfers, dismissals, repatriation of officers from Superintendent Rank in CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED). The Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) is supposed to abide by the directions given by the Committee.
However, regarding the promotion of Asthana, the ACC did not pay heed to the recommendations of the CVC Select Committee and went ahead to make him the Special Director of CBI on 22 October, a Sunday.
The Logical Indian Take
The letter for Professor Saez, though meant to wield vested interests, comes as a shocker to the Indian government. India wants the UK court to extradite Vijay Mallya convicted in money laundering cases, but it is appalling to know that that CBI Special Director is also accused of taking bribes.
The Logical Indian urges the concerned authorities to look into the matter. It is vital that investigative and probe agencies are kept outside governmental influence to ensure fair and speedy delivery of justice. Only then, it will be possible for law enforcing and investigating agencies to bring law violators to justice.