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Delhi high court verdict on Rakesh Asthana’s plea to quash FIR likely today

Jan 11, 2019

A day after CBI Director Alok Verma was shunted out of the agency, the Delhi High Court on Friday is expected to pronounce its verdict on a plea by CBI special director Rakesh Asthana seeking to quash an FIR registered against him by the agency.

In his petition, Asthana had challenged the FIR saying it was motivated at the behest of Verma.

Justice Najmi Waziri reserved the order on December 20 after hearing arguments from all sides, including Asthana, ousted CBI director Alok Verma, deputy superintendent of police Devender Kumar and the agency. Asthana, Kumar and an alleged middleman Manoj Prasad had moved court seeking the quashing of the FIR against them.

The case was lodged against Asthana and Kumar on the complaint of Hyderabad-based businessman Sana Satish Babu, who contended that the two demanded a bribe to get relief in a case related to meat-exporter Moin Qureshi.

The investigation was led by Asthana, who along with Verma was sent on forced leave on October 23.

The CBI versus CBI case turned vicious after Asthana complained to the cabinet secretary against Verma last August. The CBI had, however, filed an FIR against Asthana on October 15. Asthana has alleged that a bribe of Rs 2 crore was paid to Verma by Sana, who is also a co-accused in several cases under probe against Qureshi.

Asthana’s counsel Amarendra Sharan had contended in the high court that prior sanction was required under section 17A of Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act to act against the official.

He also maintained that the agency registered the FIR despite Central Vigilance Committee (CVC) directions not to take any action.

The CBI, represented by ASG Vikramjit Banerjee, had submitted that the sanction was not required. It said legal opinion was taken from several persons before registration the FIR.

Meanwhile, CBI DSP Devender Kumar moved the HC against the reversal of transfer orders by Verma. Kumar, who is out on bail, was arrested over allegations of fabricating a witness’s statement.

On his last day as the CBI chief, Verma on Thursday ordered seven more transfers; in all he ordered over two dozen transfers in the two days he spent as CBI director after being reinstated by the Supreme Court.

On Wednesday, he revoked all transfers, barring two, ordered by interim director M Nageswara Rao.

It in effect meant that all the officials who were probing corruption charges against his deputy Rakesh Asthana prior to October 24, when both were sent on leave by the government after an internecine feud, were back to complete the investigation.

With Thursday’s transfers, Verma ensured that the two supervisory officials – joint director V Murugesan and deputy inspector general Tarun Gauba – will continue to supervise the probe against Asthana. But he changed the lead investigator in the case and brought in superintendent of police Mohit Gupta.

Verma was transferred from the CBI on Thursday based on a CVC inquiry report which recommended a criminal probe against him and termed his conduct suspicious in the Moin Qureshi case.

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