New Delhi: The Supreme Court Thursday dismissed a PIL challenging the appointment of former CBI special director Rakesh Asthana as director general of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS). A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi refused to entertain the plea filed by lawyer M L Sharma challenging Asthana’s appointment in BCAS.
The Delhi High Court on January 11 had refused to quash the FIR lodged against Asthana on bribery allegations and set a 10-week deadline to complete the investigation. The government on January 18, however, appointed Asthana as director of BCAS, India’s regulatory authority for civil aviation security.
The plea had said the appointment was in contradiction to the law and Asthana be suspended in view of the pending investigation against him. It alleged that Asthana was under investigation for taking bribes within his duty and his appointment is contradictory to the Classification, Control and Appeal (CCA) Rules 1965.
The plea said: “Instead of suspension within the CCA rule-1965, Asthana has been promoted and appointed as chief of BCAS by during the pendency of the investigation under Delhi High Court in a FIR for bribe and corruption in his official duty”.
“This has created a serious injury to the judicial and public office systems violating Articles 21 and 14 and destruction of faith in the three constitutional office of the country,” it said.
Asthana was booked on allegations of criminal conspiracy, corruption and criminal misconduct under the relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Asthana, a Gujarat cadre IPS officer was at loggerheads with his boss former CBI Director Alok Verma for several months and both of them had levelled charges of corruption against each other.
The petition also sought framing of a suitable guideline in case of termination of service of the CBI director saying that prime minister cannot take part in the deliberations due to conflict of interest. The CBI Director is appointed by a high-powered Selection Committee comprising the prime minister, the CJI and the leader of largest opposition party.
“Instead of suspension, Asthana’s appointment as BCAS chief on January 18 is a clear case of personal interest of PM Modi in favour of Asthana and against Verma. Therefore, PM Modi have no legal and moral right to sit as member of the committee in which Asthana Vs Verma case has been decided,” it said.
In a controversial order on October 23, 2018, the government had divested the powers of Verma and Asthana sending them on forced leave as both had accused each other of corruption.