New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday continued its order to maintain status quo on the criminal proceedings initiated against CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana, who has challenged the FIR lodged against him on bribery allegations.
A bench of Justice Najmi Waziri questioned the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for not filing reply to pleas of Asthana and another official Devender Kumar, Deputy Superintendent of Police, seeking quashing of FIR lodged against them.
The agency had sought more time asserting that case files are before the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) who is looking into the allegations.
The CBI prosecutor told the high court that delay in filing of reply occurred as the case files have been sent to Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and sought more time for filing the response.
Kumar, earlier the investigating officer in a case involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi, was arrested on October 22 on the allegations of forgery in recording the statement of businessman Sathish Sana, who had alleged to have paid bribe to get relief in the case.
The high court had on October 23 directed the CBI to maintain status quo on the criminal proceedings initiated against its special director Asthana, who has challenged the FIR lodged against him on bribery allegations.
Meanwhile, Sana, the Hyderabad-based businessman whose written complaint led to the registration of an FIR against Asthana, moved the Supreme Court today seeking protection from an alleged threat from the agency.
The Delhi High Court had on October 23 directed the CBI to maintain status quo on the criminal proceedings against Asthana. It had, however, clarified that there was no stay on the ongoing probe against him and Director Alok Verma.
Asthana and Verma were at loggerheads on several issues and accused each other of blocking investigation of several important cases.
During the hearing, CBI said charges against Asthana are serious and the agency was investigating the matter and is likely to add more offences in the FIR.
In an unprecedented midnight move, the government had divested both Verma and Asthana of their duties and sent on leave on the intervening night of October 23 and 24 in the wake of their bitter feud that triggered a crisis in the 55-year history of the CBI for the first time.
Asthana and Kumar have filed separate petitions.
Asthana has also sought direction be passed that no coercive action be taken against him by the CBI.
Asthana moved the petition on Tuesday, hours after Kumar approached the high court which agreed to give an urgent hearing.
On October 27, the Supreme Court had set a two-week deadline for the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to complete its probe against agency chief Alok Kumar Verma.
The bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi while directing that the CVC probe into the allegations made in the August 24 note/letter of the Cabinet Secretary with regard to Verma be conducted under the supervision of Justice(retd) A K Patnaik also barred IPS officer M Nageswara Rao from taking any policy decisions or any major decision. Rao was given interim charge of looking after the duties of the CBI Director.
The court made it clear the supervision of the probe by a former supreme court judge was a “one-time exception” given the “peculiar facts” of the case and does not cast reflection on any authority of the government.