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CBI War Plays Out in Court: Called a ‘Pest’, No. 2 Boss Asthana Says Will Disclose Shocking Affairs of Agency

A single judge bench of the Delhi HC directed the CBI to maintain status quo on the criminal proceedings initiated against Rakesh Asthana till October 29, the next date of hearing, but clarified there was no stay on the ongoing probe

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Updated:October 23, 2018, 11:15 PM IST
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CBI War Plays Out in Court: Called a ‘Pest’, No. 2 Boss Asthana Says Will Disclose Shocking Affairs of Agency
File photo of Rakesh Asthana.
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New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed the CBI to maintain status quo on the criminal proceedings initiated against the agency's Special Director Rakesh Asthana and a trial court sent an arrested mid-level officer facing bribery charges to seven-day remand, as the unprecedented battle between the two top officers of the CBI entered the judicial arena.

During the court hearing, the CBI also submitted that charges of extortion and forgery were added against Asthana and Devender Singh, a Deputy Superintendent police of CBI who was arrested Monday by the agency for allegedly taking bribe and falsification of records.

After Asthana approached the Delhi High Court seeking quashing of the agency's FIR against him, a single judge bench directed the CBI to maintain status quo on the criminal proceedings initiated against him till October 29, the next date of hearing, but clarified there was no stay on the ongoing probe considering the nature and gravity of the case.

The high court asked both Asthana and Kumar to preserve the records of the case and also their mobile records.

On a day of fast paced developments, Devender Singh moved the Delhi High Court seeking quashing of the FIR against him and handing over of documents relating to the case.

This was followed by a similar petition in the high court by Asthana, a Gujarat cadre IPS officer, who has been continuously writing to the anti-corruption watchdog, Central Vigilance Commission, on alleged interference of the CBI Director in his probe in the case related to controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi.

Justice Najmi Waziri issued notices and sought responses of the probe agency and its Director Verma as also Joint Director A K Sharma on both the petitions.

The notice was also issued to Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), which is the administrative arm for the CBI and whose permission is required to be taken for probes against bureaucrats.

The counsel for Asthana, whose name figures in the CBI FIR, pointed out before Justice Waziri that a case had been registered against the special Director based on a statement of an accused and said there is a great amount of "sorrow". However, the judge said this was not the stage to examine the allegation of malafide.

CBI's counsel said the FIR was registered under the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act and the IPC, including criminal conspiracy, and that they have added more sections against the accused relating to extortion and forgery.

The court turned down the plea of Asthana's counsel seeking to stay further proceedings in the matter. "Nothing will happen. Tomorrow is Maharishi Valmiki's birthday, kuch nahi hoga (nothing will happen)," the judge said and asked the CBI not to disturb the equilibrium on Tuesday.

The hostility was laid bare when during the course of the hearing, the CBI counsel remarked that Asthana's presence in the organisation was akin to pest in the wood.
CBI's counsel K Raghavacharyulu, in an apparent reference to Asthana, said that "if there is pest in wood, wood will become useless". He repeated that "wood will be useless, if pest catches it".

Justice Najmi Waziri then interjected and warned the counsel from making such comments. "Don't make such statements in the court. Don't use these things here. Such statements have no place in the court," he said.

Asthana, on his end, accused the agency's chief Alok Verma of trying to "falsely implicate" him in the bribery case to "hide" his own alleged criminal misconduct of influencing investigations in lieu of money.

He said his petition would disclose the "shocking state of affairs and also reveal as to how the highest officer of the premier investigating agency of the country is trying to falsely implicate the petitioner, who is the second senior most officer of the agency, in order to hide his own criminal misconduct of influencing investigations in exchange for money".

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 businessman Sathish Sana, who is alleged to have paid bribe to get relief in the case.

He was produced before the designated CBI court which sent him to CBI's remand for seven days. The court termed the offence as "grave" and noted that there were serious allegations about the involvement of public servants including accused, who has been charged by the agency of being a part of an extortion racket being run in the garb of investigation.

During the proceedings, the agency also informed the court that it has added some fresh sections - 384 (punishment for extortion), 388 (extortion by threat of accusation of an offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life), 389 (putting person in fear of accusation of offence, in order to commit extortion), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating) and 471 (using as genuine a forged document or electronic record) - of the IPC in its FIR.
| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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