Mysterious death of PF scam accused

Source: http://www.dailypioneer.com

Ashutosh Asthana’s family alleges he was murdered in police custody
Ashutosh Asthana, a district court middle-rung officer who had earned notoriety on account of embezzlement of provident fund of Ghaziabad district courts staff, died here on Saturday. His family members are alleging foul play in the incident.

Asthana’s wife Sushma said she feared for her life now and that her husband had told her last week that he would be killed in jail. "He was under intense pressure from police," Sushma alleged in a chat with PTI. About two months ago, Asthana had requested the court to tighten his security inside the jail and claimed that he was facing threat to his life......

Asthana had been booked in connection with the Rs 48-crore provident fund scam. During investigation and in his statement to the trial court, he named several judges at whose behest he reportedly embezzled about Rs 48 crore from the provident fund account of the Ghaziabad court employees. He was in judicial custody since April 2008.

Having joined as a clerk in Ghaziabad courts on February 9, 1993, Asthana was elevated to the post of central nazir in February 2008. In his statement to the trial court, Asthana named seven judges and said he used to illegally withdraw cash from the PF accounts on their verbal instructions. The judges named were RP Mishra, RS Tripathi, RP Yadav, RS Mishra, Ajay Kumar Singh, RS Chobey and Arun Kumar.

Commenting on RP Mishra, the then district judge, Asthana revealed that he used to provide between Rs 25,000 and Rs 30,000 per month for Mishra’s household expenditure. He also incurred regular expenditure on Mishra’s son, who was studying in IMT. Regarding RS Tripathi, the then district judge here, Asthana revealed that he used to incur regular expenditure on his monthly expenditure to the tune of Rs 50,000 per month. To RP Yadav, he used to provide from Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 per month. Yadav had elevated him to the post of the central nazir.

In his statement, Asthana also named the high-profile Justices BM Sahay, Anjni Kumar, Sushil Harkoli, Tarun Agrawal, JC Rawat, ON Khandelwal, Swatantra Singh and Tarun Chatterji.

High and mighty involved in scam
SP Singh | Ghaziabad
Source: http://www.dailypioneer.com

The mysterious death of main accused in the Provident Fund scam Ashutosh Asthana inside Dasna Jail has raised obvious question of who benefited from the death of this civil court employee. Asthana’s submission before the court was causing tremendous embarrassment to the Uttar Pradesh judiciary.

The circumstances leading to his death have raised several questions. The brother of the deceased says that Ashutosh did not suffer from any major ailment such as heart or lungs. His apprehension is that his brother was poisoned to death. He adds that his brother had received death threats in the past and often used to complain of maltreatment by the jail and police officials. The family was demanding transfer of the case to Delhi.

Asthana was booked for the provident fund scam of about Rs 48 crore, out of which Rs 7 crore was siphoned off by Asthana. During investigation before the investigation officer and in his statement before the trial court, he had named several judges on whose behest he committed the crime of embezzling crores of rupees from the provident fund accounts of the Ghaziabad court employees.

On April 28, 2008 Asthana recorded his statement before the trial court in Ghaziabad and named 36 judges as alleged beneficiaries, but testimony was yet to be concluded.

The statement recorded, of course, is an admissible substance but not a sufficient evidence to prosecute any person on this basis. Since it was a statement of a co-accused, it needs further evidence. At this stage, it is difficult to say that any named judge could benefit from Asthana’s death and the benefit of the doubt would go in their favour.

In the case, names of several senior judicial officers had come to the surface. The investigation team of the police was reluctant to question them. Therefore, the case had been transferred to the CBI as the State Government on the recommendation of the police had suggested the transfer of the case to the national investigating agency.

Even the apex court had taken note of the alleged involvement of some judicial officers as beneficiaries of the PF scandal.

In his statement before the trial court under section 164 of Cr.PC, Asthana named seven judges on whose verbal instructions he used to withdraw cash from the provident fund accounts illegally. The judges named by Asthana are RP Mishra, RS Tripathi, RP Yadav, RS Mishra, Ajay Kumar Singh, RS Choubey and Arun Kumar. Talking about RP Mishra, the then district judge, Asthana had revealed that he used to invest between Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 per month on Mishra’s household expenditure. He also incurred regular expenditure on Mishra’s son who was studying in IMT.

Regarding RS Tripathi, another former district judge here, Asthana revealed that he used to incur regular expenditure on Tripathi’s monthly expenditure to the tune of Rs 50,000 per month. On RP Yadav, who elevated him, he used to spend Rs 15,000 Rs 20,000 per month. He used to incur expenditure between Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 per month on RS Mishra’s household affairs. He revealed that judge Ajay Kumar Singh was fond of travelling and buying expensive articles. He used to arrange for the shopping binge of Singh’s family in Ghaziabad.

He spent between Rs 1,50,000 to Rs 2,00,000 for the beauty treatment expenses of Singh’s family at Myra Mabyn, a beauty shop in up-market Raj Nagar District Centre, Ghaziabad. And he further invested about Rs 70,000 to Rs 80,000 on furnishing AK Singh son’s house in Arawali apartments in sector 52 Noida. He used to present Rs 4,00,000 per month to then district judge Ghaziabad RS Choubey. He gifted computers and a laptop to his son and daughters. He named judges Arun Kumar, Ashok Kumar Chaudhary, Km Ujjwala Garg, Subhash Chandra Agrawal, Subhash Chandra Nigam, Sadhna Chaudhary, RP Shukla, DS Tripathi, Shri Prakash, Ali Zafari, Deepak Shrivastava, RA Kaushik, Chandra Prakash, RC Singh, CK Tyagi, Jai Sheel Pathak, Akhilesh Dubey, Himanshu Bhatnagar, Hamidullah, DC Singh, Anil Kumar Singh, Gauri Shankar Singh and Sunil Kumar Singh who were beneficiaries through cash and other articles provided to them or their family members.

In addition to these judicial officers, there were seven High Court judges who are alleged to have taken cash or other benefits from him. They were named by Asthana in his statement before the court.

Asthana was in judicial custody since April 2008. The case was detected in February and the FIR was lodged by then ADJ Rama Jain in Kavi Nagar police station. Asthana joined as a clerk in Ghaziabad courts on 9 February 1993 and was elevated to the post of central Nazir in February 2008.