Dismiss Asthana plea seeking to quash FIR, CBI urges court

Rakesh Asthana

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday urged the Delhi High Court to dismiss Special Director Rakesh Asthana’s plea seeking quashing of an FIR in a corruption case.

The CBI told Justice Najmi Waziri that a new investigating team took charge of the case recently and the agency is in the process of analysing the material and documents.

“Therefore, CBI seeks leave of this court to file a detailed affidavit in opposition at a later stage,” the CBI said.

The court extended its interim order to maintain status quo and interim relief from arrest granted to Asthana till November 14, the next date fixed for hearing.

The court’s direction came on Asthana’s plea seeking extension of the status quo order and to issue direction to the CBI not to take coercive steps against him.

The court was hearing the pleas of Asthana and suspended Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Devender Kumar seeking quashing of FIRs.

The central agency has also opposed Kumar’s plea.

The agency told the high court that the probe was going on with an “objective satisfaction” under the supervision of senior-level officers and at this stage, it cannot be challenged about the applicability of the sections mentioned in the FIR.

Last week, the CBI had arrested Kumar for allegedly forging documents in the bribery charge case against Asthana.

Kumar got bail on Wednesday by a trial court.

Meat exporter Moin Qureshi, who is facing multiple cases of money laundering and corruption, had paid a bribe to get a case against him settled, the agency said.

According to the CBI, Kumar fabricated the statement of Sana Sathish Babu, a witness in the Qureshi case, showing he recorded the statement on September 26 in Delhi. However, investigation revealed that Sana was not in Delhi on that day. He was in Hyderabad and joined the investigation only on October 1.

Asthana, a 1984-batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the Gujarat cadre, is accused of accepting a bribe of Rs 2 crore from a businessman who was being investigated in the Qureshi case in order to “wreck” the investigation. The case was being examined by a special investigation team (SIT) headed by Asthana.

Kumar’s arrest came a day after the CBI registered an FIR against Asthana, Kumar and two others. The CBI has alleged that bribes were taken at least five times between December 2017 and October 2018.

In a dramatic post-midnight action, the government on October 24 divested CBI chief Alok Verma of his charge and made Joint Director M. Nageshwar Rao the interim Director. Asthana was also divested of all his supervisory responsibilities.

The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) took the decision after Verma and Asthana accused each other of taking bribes.