A verbal altercation broke out during a hearing in a Delhi court on Friday between the two investigating officers associated with a bribery case, allegedly involving senior officers of the Central Bureau of Investigation, reported Hindustan Times. The special CBI court had on February 19 asked former investigation officer Ajay Kumar Bassi to appear in court to explain the case diary.

The argument began after Bassi accused the current investigating officer Satish Dagar of covering up “big names” in the case. Bassi said that the key player, Manoj Prasad, had divulged the names being shielded during interrogation in October 2018 but Dagar allegedly did not investigate them.

“I have better antecedents than you [Bassi] in the organisation,” Dagar said, hitting back at Bassi. “Do not level personal allegations. I summoned you six times, why didn’t you appear if you wanted to assist in the investigation? One must ask him [Bassi], he conducted investigation only between October 15 and 23, 2018, but how does he know what is happening in the CBI? How has he infiltrated our investigation?”

Dagar and CBI’s counsel opposed to additional documents that Bassi presented in court. Dagar questioned why Bassi submitted new documents that were not part of his case diary. Bassi also told the court that there was incriminating evidence against former CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana, and alleged that Dagar still did not seize his phone or collate other electronic evidence, reported IANS.

Following the spat, Special CBI judge Sanjeev Aggarwal said: “There is no point washing dirty linen in public. You both worked in the same organisation, which is bigger than an individual.”

The matter will be heard again on March 7.

During the hearing on February 19, the special court had pulled up CBI for not carrying out psychological and lie detector tests on Asthana. The court had also asked if any electronic evidence was recovered from Asthana, or if he was confronted with other accused. The CBI said they had only examined him but never made him face other accused.

The case

Asthana has been accused of receiving kickbacks and extorting money from Hyderabad-based businessman Sana Satish Babu, who was being investigated in the Moin Qureshi corruption case. Qureshi is an accused in multiple graft cases. Middleman Manoj Prasad was named as an accused in the CBI chargesheet, and the agency said that the investigation against his brother Somesh Prasad and his relative Sunil Mittal was still under way. Research and Analysis Wing chief Samant Goel, whose name had come up in connection with the Prasad brothers, has also been dropped from the case.

In October 2018, Asthana accused former CBI Director Alok Verma of trying to falsely implicate him, and levelled corruption charges against him. Soon after, the Centre sent both Asthana and Verma on compulsory leave in October 2018.

The CBI court on February 19 asked the agency to submit call records between October 15 and October 23, 2018, of those involved in the case. It also asked the agency for information on others put under surveillance and legal interceptions done. The agency said Manoj Prasad and Someshwar Prasad, their father, Someshwar’s father-in-law Sunil Mittal, and lawyer Prakash Singh Negi’s phones were intercepted, and voice samples were sent for analysis.

On February 12, the Delhi court had voiced its displeasure with the CBI investigation after it dropped Asthana and Kumar’s names from the chargesheet, filed on February 11.