File photo of CBI Additional Director Rakesh Asthana | PTI
File photo of CBI Additional Director Rakesh Asthana | PTI
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The Delhi High Court has set a 10-week deadline for the CBI to complete its investigation against Rakesh Asthana & Devender Kumar.

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Friday refused to quash the CBI’s FIR against the agency’s special director Rakesh Asthana and deputy superintendent of police Devender Kumar for allegedly extorting bribes from those being investigated by the probe body.

A bench of Delhi High Court Justice Najmi Waziri directed the CBI to conclude the investigation against Asthana and Kumar within 10 weeks.

The high court had on 20 December reserved its judgment on a batch of pleas that sought the quashing of the FIRs filed against Asthana, his alleged aide Devender Kumar, and suspected middleman Manoj Prasad, who allegedly took money from a Hyderabad-based businessman Sathish Sana, to grant him relief in a case pertaining to meat exporter Moin Qureshi.

In October 2018, Asthana had challenged the Centre’s decision to divest him of his charge after he was sent on leave amid a faceoff with the agency’s director, Alok Verma, who was similarly penalised.

Asthana had claimed the latter was trying to “falsely implicate him” in corruption charges. The CBI had earlier booked Asthana for the alleged extortion of suspects in cases being investigated by the agency.

The CBI special director’s suspected aide, Kumar, was arrested for allegedly tampering with a bribery complaint against Asthana to reflect Verma’s involvement.

Both Asthana and Kumar subsequently moved the Delhi High Court to contest the charges against them, alleging that it was actually Verma who was involved in bribery.

Asthana’s plea

In his plea, Asthana said the FIR against him violated Section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Act, 2018, since his appointing authority had not been consulted before it was filed.

“The present petition would disclose the shocking state of affairs and also reveal as to how the highest officer of the premier investigating agency of the country is trying to falsely implicate the petitioner, who is the second senior-most officer of the agency, in order to hide his own criminal misconduct of influencing investigations in exchange for money,” the petition stated.

“In the background of the above facts, the present proceedings are not only a shocking portrayal of misuse of the authority, which… undermines the credibility of institution and morale of the force but also illustrates that Respondent No. 2 [Verma] is misusing his position to achieve all illegal goals,” it added.

Also read: The RAW link in CBI tussle between Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana

What the CBI said

The probe agency told the high court that the FIR against Asthana showed cognisable offences.

Opposing Asthana’s plea, the agency said that the probe against him was at a nascent stage and several incriminating documents as well as the role of other persons were under investigation.

The CBI added that it was “handicapped in the probe” as certain files and documents were under the scrutiny of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), which was probing the allegations against Verma on the Supreme Court’s direction.

Also read: Charges against Alok Verma ‘unsubstantiated’, Kharge told Modi-led selection panel


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