New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Thursday extended till November 14 its order asking the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to maintain status quo on proceedings against Special Director Rakesh Asthana, allegedly involved in a bribery case. Also Read - Renowned Artist Satish Gujral Passes Away at 94
Both CBI and Asthana opposed in the high court the plea of Additional SP S S Gurm, who has been transferred from Delhi to Jabalpur in the wake of feud between CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma and Asthana, to be heard in the matter. Also Read - COVID-19: Delhi HC Asks MEA to Ensure Safety of Indian Students Stranded in Kazakhstan
The high Court on October 23 had ordered the CBI to maintain status quo on proceedings against Asthana which was further extended on October 29 till Thursday, November 1. Also Read - All Legal Remedies Exhausted, Nirbhaya Convicts to be Hanged in Tihar Jail at 5:30 AM Today
The October 23 order had also made it clear that the agency would not take any coercive step against Asthana.
Earlier in the day, the CBI in its reply to Asthana’s plea seeking to quash an FIR against him, said that allegations against him and others show cognisable offences.
The agency also said the investigation in the case was at nascent stage and it was “handicapped” in the probe as certain files and documents were under the Central Vigilance Commission scrutiny.
The files and documents have been sent to the CVC as the Supreme Court has directed the vigilance body to conduct enquiry against CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma.
CBI filed the reply in response to the notice issued to it on the petition filed by Asthana against the lodging of case.
The petitions of Asthana, CBI DSP Devendra Kumar and middleman Manoj Prasad are scheduled to come up for hearing before a bench of Justice Najmi Waziri during the day.
In the reply, the CBI has said, “This court categorically held that when an FIR is challenged by way of a writ petition, more particularly, in Prevention of Corruption Cases, allegations in the FIR are to be seen whether they disclose the cognisable offence or not and the roving enquiry at this stage is impermissible.”
“It is submitted that the FIR and the complaint clearly discloses the cognisable offences and accordingly the CBI has registered the FIR and proceeded with the investigation.”
The agency told the high court that there cannot be a roving enquiry now as the probe was at nascent stage and several incriminating documents and role of other persons was under investigation.
“It is submitted that the investigation is at nascent stage. Being at this threshold, it may not be in the interest of the investigation to disclose various aspects or revelations or unearthed events”.
The agency denied all adverse allegations, whether relevant or irrelevant to Asthana’s petition.
“The CBI denies all adverse allegations whether they are germane or not germane to the present petition and the petitioners are put to strict proof of the same.
“A new investigating team has taken charge recently and is under the process of analysing the material/ documents etc. Therefore, CBI crave leave of this court to file a detailed affidavit in opposition at a later stage,” it said.
It 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.
“The agency has commenced the investigation and is yet to file charge sheet. Therefore, nothing is conclusive and several things are to be unearthed,” it said.
The high court had on October 29 ordered the CBI to maintain status quo till November 1 on proceedings against Asthana, who was sent on leave by the government.
Kumar, earlier the investigating officer in a case involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi, was arrested 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.
Kumar was granted bail by a Delhi court on Wednesday.
In his statement, Sana had purportedly said that he had in June this year discussed his case with Telugu Desam Party’s Rajya Sabha member C M Ramesh who, after speaking to the CBI Director, had assured him that he would not be summoned again.
“From June onwards, I was not called by the CBI. I was under the impression that investigation against me is complete,” he is believed to have said.
The CBI has now alleged that Kumar had fabricated this statement as an “afterthought…To corroborate the baseless allegations made by Asthana against Verma to the CVC”.
They said the agency was also looking into the alleged role of other members of the special investigation team headed by Asthana.
Asthana, who was booked by the agency on bribery charges in an unprecedented action, had complained against Verma.
(With PTI inputs)