HC Slams CBI For Not Filing Reply In Case Involving Asthana

**New Delhi: ** The Delhi High Court on Monday slammed the Central Bureau of Investigation for failing to file a reply on its Special Director Rakesh Asthana’s plea seeking quashing of an FIR against him.

Justice Najmi Waziri extended the interim protection from arrest granted to Asthana till November 1 and said that the October 23 order to maintain status quo in the case will be continued till 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 CBI not to take coercive steps against Asthana.

The court pulled up the CBI for not filing responses on Asthana and Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Devender Kumar’s pleas seeking quashing of FIRs.

Seeking more time to file its response, the CBI told the court that the team probing the case against Asthana had been changed.

The court said: “Has the institution come to a standstill? You (CBI) will file reply on or before October 31 otherwise your officers will be called.”

The court was hearing pleas from Asthana and Kumar, who said that cases were registered against them in an illegal manner with a mala fide intention.

Kumar was arrested last week for fabricating documents in the bribery allegations case against Asthana. 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, 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.

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.

Asthana, a 1984-batch Indian Police Service 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.

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.