Supreme Court junks plea challenging Asthana’s appointment as Special Director CBI

Rakesh Asthana

The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to quash the appointment of Gujarat cadre IPS officer Rakesh Asthana as Special Director, CBI, as it dismissed the plea by NGO Common Cause.

The bench of Justice R.K. Agrawal and Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre dismissed Common Cause’s plea challenging Asthana’s appointment on different counts, including his name figuring in a 2011 diary carrying the details of alleged payments made by a Surat-based company to several people.

The order on a petition challenging Asthana’s elevation as Special Director CBI was reserved on November 24.

Prior to his elevation as Special Director, Asthana was Additional Director, CBI.

The Centre had defended Asthana’s appointment as Special Director, saying that he has an unblemished record and that just a few months ago he was described as an “outstanding” officer by the investigating agency itself.

Common Cause had raised questions regarding Asthana for his alleged proximity to Gujarat-based Sterling Biotech Group — a company of the Sandesara Group, which is being investigated by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate.

“The company is under investigation by the Enforcement Directorate for alleged money laundering involving Rs 5,000 crore and Asthana’s name figures in a diary seized by the Income Tax Department in 2011,” Common Cause had told the court

Defending the decision of the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), Attorney General K.K. Venugopal had told the court that the selection committee had unanimously approved Asthana’s name for appointment as Special Director.