The Delhi High Court on Friday dismissed CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana's plea to quash an FIR filed against him on allegations of bribery, according to several media reports.
The court's verdict on the plea of the agency's second-in-command comes soon after Alok Verma was removed from the post of CBI director by a Selection Committee, a process that was prescribed by the Supreme Court on Tuesday. The Delhi High Court on Friday also ruled on the petitions of CBI deputy superintendent Devender Kumar, and alleged middleman Manoj Prasad.
CBI additional director, M Nageshwar Rao, who had been serving as the interim director of the agency, assumed charge as CBI director on Friday, ANI reported.
On 20 December 2018, Justice Najmi Waziri had reserved the judgment on the petitions after hearing submissions of the counsel for CBI, the Centre, Asthana, Kumar, CBI director Alok Verma and Joint Director AK Sharma. Additional Superintendent of Police SS Gurm had also filed a plea in the court to be impleaded as a party.
Hyderabad-based businessman Sathish Babu Sana, on whose complaint the FIR was lodged against Asthana and who had alleged to have paid a bribe to get relief in a case, had also filed a similar plea seeking to be heard in the case. However, he did not press for his plea and had said that he would cooperate with the CBI whenever called for the investigation.
Kumar on Thursday moved the high court seeking direction to the probe agency not to allow Verma and other re-transferred officers to deal with the bribery FIR lodged against him. The application, filed in the main petition, is likely to be heard on Friday.
Asthana and Kumar's counsel had argued that the FIR was antedated and it reached the magistrate 52 hours after registration, whereas, as per law it should be placed before the magistrate within 24 hours.
They had contended that there was no allegation of demand and acceptance of illegal gratification against Asthana and he cannot be made an accused for the alleged offence under the PC Act. CBI had said there was no merit in the petitions of the two officers and the agency was bound to probe the matter thoroughly.
Verma, who was made a respondent in the petitions, had earlier maintained that all mandatory procedures of law were followed while registering an FIR against Asthana on bribery allegations.
Sharma, who was one of the respondents, had argued that the FIR was not lodged exclusively under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the provisions of IPC, including, forgery, extortion and criminal conspiracy, which means sanction to prosecute the government official was not of much importance.
The Centre's counsel had said that ordinarily it is required to take prior sanction to prosecute a public servant but as this matter was not referred or brought before the government, she cannot say anything. The court had earlier, in an interim order, directed the CBI to maintain status quo regarding proceedings against Asthana.
Kumar, who was arrested on 22 October, was granted bail on 31 October. Prasad was arrested on 17 October, 2018 and he was granted bail on 18 December as the CBI could not file the chargesheet against in the case in the stipulated time of 60 days.
Verma had said in the affidavit that there were sufficient incriminating documents and evidence against all accused — Asthana, Kumar and middleman Manoj Prasad — with the CBI, and that the FIR was lodged after the PE disclosed cognisable offences.
He had claimed that Asthana's plea is misconceived, premature and not maintainable as investigation in the matter is at a nascent stage. The Supreme Court on Tuesday had reinstated Verma but directed him not to take any major policy decision till the high-powered committee gave its findings.
Verma had challenged before the apex court the Centre's decision to divest him of all powers and send him on leave. Kumar, earlier the investigating officer in a case involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi, was arrested on the allegations of forgery in recording the statement of Sana who had alleged to have paid bribe to get relief in the case.
Sana, on whose complaint the FIR was lodged, had also made allegations of corruption, extortion, high-handedness and serious malpractices against Asthana.
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Updated Date: Jan 11, 2019 15:09:42 IST