Asthana plea: Delhi High Court pulls up CBI for delay

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New Delhi | Published: October 30, 2018 12:58:48 AM

On October 23, the court had asked the CBI to maintain “status quo” on the proceedings initiated against Asthana who had sought in a plea that no coercive action be taken against him while the probe into the matter was underway.

“CBI shall maintain status quo till next date of hearing, November 1,” Justice Najmi Wazari said. The court asked the agency to file its response before the next hearing. (File photo)

The Delhi High Court Monday pulled up the CBI for not filing its reply to a plea by the agency’s Special Director Rakesh Asthana and said that it should abide by its earlier order on maintaining “status quo” on proceedings in the FIR lodged against the officer on alleged bribery charges.

“CBI shall maintain status quo till next date of hearing, November 1,” Justice Najmi Wazari said. The court asked the agency to file its response before the next hearing.

On October 23, the court had asked the CBI to maintain “status quo” on the proceedings initiated against Asthana who had sought in a plea that no coercive action be taken against him while the probe into the matter was underway.

On Monday, CBI counsel K Raghavacharyulu urged the court to grant the agency more time to place its affidavit on pleas by Asthana and CBI’s Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Devender Kumar, who sought quashing of an FIR lodged against him and three others on October 15 under various sections of the IPC and Prevention of Corruption Act.

The agency claimed that after the Supreme Court asked the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to look into the matter, the Investigating officer (IO) of the cases had handed over all the documents.

However, the court said the issue before the Supreme Court was different and that there was “no whisper and even no reference to the present case”. “You (CBI) were asked to file your counter affidavit to the present petitions. You took three days’ time. Despite that, you say that you need more time,” the court said. Apologising to the court, the CBI counsel said: “We will be able to… by the next date.”

The bench then asked the CBI to submit the name of the officer on whose instructions the agency would file the affidavit. “The reply shall be filed without fail and status quo to continue,” the bench ordered.

The court, however, declined to intervene in the custody of Devender Kumar, who claimed through senior advocate Dayan Krishnan that his custody was illegal and he should be released immediately. Kumar is presently in CBI custody. On October 22, Kumar was arrested for “falsification of records” in connection with bribery allegations involving Asthana. At the time, Kumar was the investigating officer in the Moin Qureshi case as part of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by Asthana.

Kumar was named accused No 2 in an FIR filed by the CBI, which named Asthana as accused No 1 On October 23, the government sent the CBI Director Alok Verma and Asthana on leave after both raised serious corruption charges against each other.

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