The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Hyderabad Police to provide adequate security to businessman Satish Sana, the complainant in the bribery case against Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Special Director Rakesh Asthana.
However, a bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and justices UU Lalit and KM Joseph refused to stay the CBI summons against Sana and also rejected his plea to have his statement recorded in the presence of former Supreme Court judge AK Patnaik.
On Monday, Sana had approached the top court seeking interim protection in the case, alleging a threat to his life. He had moved the court amid reports of the CBI summoning him for questioning.
During the hearing, senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, appearing for Sana, said the businessman needed protection as there is a threat to his life. The bench said that if there was any threat to his life it will do the necessary. "We will say here is a citizen who claims to be a whistleblower and fears for his life. And he should be given adequate security," it said.
Ramachandran said a fresh summon of CBI and the change of Investigation Officer (IO) in the case would complicate the task of Justice (retired) Patnaik, who is supervising the probe by Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) into charges against CBI director Alok Verma.
To this the bench said, "Let the task of supervision be handled by Justice Patnaik. He will do whatever is required."
The bench thereafter dictated the order and said adequate security should be provided by Hyderabad Police SP to the petitioner (Sana) and rejected the other two prayers to stay CBI summon and recording of his statement in presence of Justice (retd) Patnaik.
The CBI had booked Asthana on 15 October on the basis of a complaint from Sana, facing probe in a 2017 case involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi, claiming that the special director had allegedly helped him to get a clean chit from the probe agency.
Besides seeking a stay on CBI's summons against him, Sana in his petition had expressed fear for his life and sought police protection during the pendency of the inquiry against Asthana, who along side CBI Director Alok Verma has been divested of duties and sent on leave by the Central government.
The businessman, in his plea, had referred to the apex court's 26 October order on the petition of the CBI Director by which the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) was asked to conclude inquiry against Verma within two weeks under the supervision of former apex court judge Patnaik.
He had said that the CBI moved "in haste" to issue notice to him under Section 160 of the CrPC (Code Of Criminal Procedure) to attend the proceedings on 29 October before the probe agency and said that the same be recorded before Justice Patnaik.
He had sought the court's direction that he be questioned only under the supervision of Justice Patnaik. Sana had also said that he was willing to cooperate with the probe by coming to Delhi as and when directed by the judge supervising the enquiry.
The feud between Verma and Asthana escalated recently leading to registration of an FIR against Asthana and others including Deputy Superintendent of Police Devender Kumar, who is in the CBI custody in an alleged bribery case.
The FIR was lodged on a written complaint of Sana on 15 October. It alleged that Kumar, the investigating officer (IO) in a case, was repeatedly calling him to the CBI office to harass and compel him to pay bribe of Rs 5 crore for giving him clean chit. In a statement to the agency, he had alleged that Asthana had taken a bribe of Rs 2 crore from him.
Taking cognisance of this, the CBI registered an FIR with bribery charges against Asthana on 15 October. A copy of Sana's purported "handwritten statement" dated 1 October was handed over to the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) by a CBI joint director to establish that the statement belonged to Sana.
However, Asthana later accused CBI Director Alok Verma of being corrupt instead and filed a complaint against him. The Centre then intervened in the internal tussle of the CBI and sent both Verma and Asthana on leave, divesting them of their duties at the agency. M Nageshwar Rao was appointed the interim director of the CBI.
After being divested of his duties, Verma had approached the Supreme Court, challenging the Centre's decision to send him on leave. On Friday, Gogoi had given the CVC two weeks to complete the inquiry into the various charges against Verma and submit its report to the court.
Asthana, too, had moved the Supreme Court against being divested of his duties and seeking Verma's removal from the CBI. He had also filed a plea in the Delhi High Court to have the bribery case against him quashed. The high court, on Monday, extended Asthana's interim protection from arrest till 1 November and directed the CBI to maintain status quo.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Oct 30, 2018 15:46 PM