New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday not only refused to quash the FIR against CBI special director Rakesh Asthana, whose allegations led to removal of his boss Alok Verma from the agency, but also cleared way for his arrest by removing the interim protection granted to him against the criminal proceedings. The single-judge Bench of Justice Najmi Waziri also directed the CBI to complete investigation in the case of criminal conspiracy and corruption against Asthana and his accomplices within 10 weeks.
She refused to cancel the case registered against Asthana, his deputy SP Devender Kumar and alleged middleman Manoj Prasad. The judge also ruled that the government’s permission for prior sanction to prosecute Asthana and Devender was not needed in view of the facts of the case. The FIR was registered against them on a complaint of Hyderabad-based businessman Satish Babu Sana, who was allegedly forced to cough up a bribe to get relief in a money laundering case involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi. No quashing of FIR against CBI’s No 2 Asthana, a 1984-batch IPS officer of the Gujarat cadre, is accused of accepting a bribe of Rs. 2 crore from Sana.
Asthana had told the court he was being harassed and there was no evidence against him and the bribery case was a backlash to complaints of criminal misconduct against his boss Verma. The development comes a day after Asthana’s boss and CBI chief Alok Verma was removed by a high-level committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after his conditional reinstatement by the Supreme Court on Tuesday. Asthana and Verma had publicly traded charges of corruption against each other, constraining the government to send both on forced leave and appoint an interim chief on October 23 in a midnight swoop.