Handover Asthana's viscera samples to AIIMS: SC asks CBI



Handover Asthana`s viscera samples to AIIMS: SC asks CBI New Delhi/Ghaziabad: The Supreme Court on Tuesday stepped in to ascertain the cause of the mysterious death in a Ghaziabad jail of Ashutosh Asthana, a key accused in the multi-crore Provident Fund scam, directing the CBI to hand over his viscera samples to AIIMS for the purpose.

It also asked the UP government to provide protection to all the accused and witnesses in the case.

The court's direction came on a day when authorities in Dasna jail in Ghaziabad on the outskirts of Delhi began an inquiry into 43-year-old Asthana's death on Saturday.

A special bench headed by Justice D K Jain also asked the UP government to provide adequate protection to all the accused and witnesses in the case. Asthana's wife had voiced apprehensions that she could be the next target.

In a related development, Union Law Minister M Veerappa Moily said if the UP government wants, it can hand over investigations of the case (of Asthana's death) to the CBI.

Asthana, a treasury officer at the Ghaziabad court, was arrested in April 2008 in connection with the alleged siphoning off of Rs.23 crore provident fund of class III and IV employees in which names of a number of 36 judges from various courts, including one from the Supreme Court, had figured.

The apex court asked the CBI to give Asthana's viscera's samples to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences to ascertain the cause of his death.

"She is a district judge and has already been provided protection. The state will take all steps to protect her," the bench said when senior counsel Anil Divan, appearing for the petitioner Nahar Singh Yadav, sought protection for her and Anokhi Lal, another accused in the case.

"Naturally, if she makes a request, we are bound to provide (security). There should be no difficulty," the bench said when the counsel wondered if Rama Jain would be provided additional security if she apprehends any further threat.

Both Attorney General G E Vahanvati and UP counsel Shail Dwivedi assured the court that they would abide by any order passed by the bench as they were all "very very concerned" with the latest development.

Asthana, who was a treasury officer at the Ghaziabad court, was arrested in April 2008 in connection with siphoning off provident fund of class III and IV employees. During interrogation, he had named 36 judges of various courts, including one from the Supreme Court, as alleged beneficiaries of the scam.

The investigation in the case is being done by CBI under the directions of the apex court since September 2008 on the basis of a petition filed by Nahar Singh Yadav, president of Advocates Welfare Association, Ghaziabad.

Those named in the scam include seven Allahabad High Court judges, six retired High Court judges and 12 judges of subordinate judiciary in Uttar Pradesh.

Bureau Report