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Rakesh Asthana Tells Delhi HC Govt Nod Must For FIR Against Him; CBI Says No

The primary basis of the argument of Asthana was that according to the Section 17A of the PC Act, no FIR can be registered against a serving public servant unless there is sanction from the competent authority.

Debayan Roy | News18.com

Updated:December 7, 2018, 9:36 PM IST
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Rakesh Asthana Tells Delhi HC Govt Nod Must For FIR Against Him; CBI Says No
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 bitter tussle between CBI Director Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana came up again in the Delhi Court on Friday with the latter claiming that the bar of Section 17A of Prevention of Corruption Act cannot be circumvented and that the case diary must be called for to see what "reasons were noted" before lodging the FIR against him.

Justice Najmi Waziri of the Delhi High Court asked Senior Advocate Amarendra Sharan, who was appearing for Rakesh Asthana, as to whether any communication was sent from the CBI to the government? And how did the CVC got the information about the case the day FIR was registered?

The primary basis of the argument of Asthana was that according to the Section 17A of the PC Act, no FIR can be registered against a serving public servant unless there is sanction from the competent authority.

"Section 17A is a mandatory provision. It provides an outer time limit for officers to respond. This is a clear embargo on registering cases against public servants," said senior counsel Sharan.

The advocate also made a case that "this section was given a deliberate go bye even though CVC had cautioned against it."

"The offence came to light on October 4 when Satish Babu Sana's statement under Section 164 of CrPC was recorded, and this section 17A had come into force with effect from September 1," said Sharan.

The senior counsel also argued that no reasoning was accorded for the registration of FIR.

"The bar of Section 17A cannot be circumvented and any action bypassing Section 17A will be grossly illegal. Please ask respondents to show the case diary where the reason has been noted as to why was Section 17A not taken into account in this case," said the counsel for Rakesh Asthana.

However, the counsel for Superintendent of Police, who registered the FIR against Asthana, allowed for permission to place some relevant facts before the judge.

"Solicitor General P Narsimhan had given a written advice to CBI on registration of the FIR against Asthana and that must be placed before the court," said the Superintendent of Police's counsel.

However, Additional Solicitor General, Vikramjit Banerjee appearing for the CBI submitted that the allegations made against Asthana for accepting bribes and taking part in the extortion racket were not in the course of discharging his official duty and hence there is no question of being barred by Section 17A of PC Act.

Sharan also submitted that the FIR was not put on the CBI website within 24 hours but "was displayed only after 5 days."

Further pointing out yet another anomaly, it was stated that the FIR was registered on October 15 at 8 pm and Section 7a read with section 13 (1) (D) was invoked, "but section 13 now stands deleted. Surprisingly, on the date when it was registered, section 13 (1) (D) ceased to exist".

At this juncture, MA Niyazi appearing for CBI joint director AK Sharma also argued that section 17A will not be a bar in this case because allegations levelled against Asthana were not in the course of "recommendations" or "directions issued by him" in his official capacity.

Niyazi also made out a case that the section 17A was under challenge in the Supreme Court and that even a notice was issued in the case.

Justice Waziri also allowed Niyazi to submit the sealed cover showing incriminating evidence against Asthana and others to the ASG Banerjee and the court.

News18 had earlier reported that Niyazi had submitted intercepted WhatsApp conversations which prove that Asthana was the "Kingpin of the extortion racket”.

Justice Waziri, though, had limited the arguments to only question of law today, the next hearing has been slotted to December 18 when Sharan is expected to argue why there is a mala fide in this case by Alok Verma.

However, the counsel for Verma has argued that point by point rebuttal of all the allegations have been filed in the counter affidavit before the court.
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