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Delhi HC Extends Rakesh Asthana’s Protection from Arrest Till Nov 1, Asks if ‘CBI Has Come to Standstill’

The court questioned if the institution of CBI had come to a standstill and gave the agency one more week to file its response on the plea by Asthana who has challenged an FIR lodged against him on bribery allegations.

Debayan Roy | News18.com

Updated:October 29, 2018, 3:24 PM IST
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Delhi HC Extends Rakesh Asthana’s Protection from Arrest Till Nov 1, Asks if ‘CBI Has Come to Standstill’
In this file photo, CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana addresses the media after a raid in New Delhi. (PTI Photo)
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New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday extended CBI special director Rakesh Asthana’s interim protection from arrest till November 1, questioning the probe agency’s delay in filing a response to his plea challenging an FIR against him.

The court questioned if the institution of CBI had come to a standstill and gave the agency one more week to file its response on the plea by Asthana who has challenged an FIR lodged against him on bribery allegations.

The bench assessed the Supreme Court order and stated that there was no "whisper of Asthana" in the order by the CJI Gogoi-led bench.

CBI was slated to file its reply in the case today, but the premier investigating agency sought more time.

"New probe team took charge of Rakesh Asthana case on Oct 25 and on Oct 26 after SC ordered CVC probe. We need more time for the probe. Asthana case files are with the CVC, and the Investigating officer does not have the files," stated the CBI counsel in court.

However, this drew the ire of the bench, when the court asked whether "CBI had come to a standstill?"

The HC had on October 23 directed the CBI to maintain status quo on the criminal proceedings initiated against Asthana. The high court asked both Asthana and CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma to preserve the records of the case and also their mobile phone records.

Asthana and Kumar, both of whom have been divested of all charges, have filed separate petitions. Asthana has also sought direction be passed that no coercive action be taken against him by the CBI.

The crisis in the country’s premier investigating agency case emanates from a statement recorded by a Hyderabad-based real estate agent Sathish Sana whose role was being investigated by a team led by Asthana in a bribery case allegedly involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi.

It was alleged that Sana had paid Rs 50 lakh as bribe to Qureshi, which was shown as investment in his company, to get relief in a bribery case.

A Special Investigation Team led by Rakesh Asthana was probing the matter and was repeatedly questioning Sana in this regard as it suspected him of lying in the matter.

A lookout notice was also issued against him by the investigation which prevented him from leaving the country on September 25, 2018, Sana had said in his statement which is part of the FIR.

The team also submitted a proposal to arrest him as it felt the need for custodial interrogation on October 20, 2018 before the director which was not cleared and sent for the opinion of Directorate of Prosecution.

"The arrest is ordered only when certain parameters are fulfilled. The sanctioning authority satisfies itself whether arrest is warranted or not. The due procedure was followed," CBI spokesperson said on the question of Asthana's claims.

Asthana in his complaint to the Cabinet Secretary on August 24 had alleged that CBI Director Alok Verma had received a bribe of Rs 2 crore from Sana to help him get relief from repeated questioning.

He had also alleged that Verma had called him over phone in February to not call Sana for questioning.

In a surprising and unprecedented move on October 15, the CBI booked Asthana and investigation officer of the case on the charges of receiving bribe from Sana through middlemen Manoj Prasad and Somesh Prasad.

The CBI has arrested Devender Kumar, the Deputy SP and investigation officer, alleging that he had fabricated the statement of Sana purportedly claiming that a Rajya Sabha MP had met Verma on his pending case and assured him of relief and a clean chit.
| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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