Delhi HC Reserves Verdict In Rakesh Asthana's Plea To Quash FIR
Investigations into the allegations of bribery against CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana and DSP Devender Kumar must continue and their pleas for quashing the FIR against them should be dismissed, the probe agency told the Delhi High Court today.
Advancing arguments before Justice Najmi Waziri, Additional Solicitor General Vikramjit Banerjee, representing the CBI, said there was no merit in the petitions of the two officers and the agency was bound to probe the matter thoroughly.
The court reserved its verdict on various petitions after hearing submissions of the counsels for CBI, the Centre, Asthana, Kumar, CBI director Alok Kumar Verma and Joint Director A K Sharma.
The ASG said that as per the law, in case of a cognisable offence, an FIR has to be lodged and the credibility of the evidence has to be tested by the investigating officer during the investigation.
Senior advocate Amit Sibal, representing Verma, maintained that all mandatory procedures of law were followed while registering an FIR against Asthana on bribery allegations.
Advocate M A Niyazi, appearing for Sharma, argued that the FIR was not lodged exclusively under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the provisions of IPC, including, forgery, extortion and criminal conspiracy, which means sanction to prosecute the government official was not of much importance.
He added that the allegation of FIR being antedated would be dealt with in the trial court and the investigation was at a nascent stage and it was not a proper stage to ask for quashing of the FIR.
Complainant and Hyderabad-based businessman Sathish Babu Sana, who had alleged to have paid bribe to get relief in a case, did not press for his plea seeking to be impleaded as a party in the case. He said he would cooperate with the agency whenever called and has joined the investigation thrice.
Senior advocates Amrendra Sharan and Dayan Krishnan, appearing for Asthana and Kumar respectively, argued that the FIR was antedated and it reached the magistrate 52 hours after registration, whereas, as per law it should be placed before the magistrate within 24 hours.
They contended that there was no allegation of demand and acceptance of illegal gratification against Asthana and he cannot be made an accused for the alleged offence under the PC Act.
ASG Maninder Acharya, appearing for the Centre, had said that ordinarily it is required to take prior sanction to prosecute a public servant but as this matter was not referred or brought before the government, she cannot say anything.
The court also extended till the next date its interim order directing the CBI to maintain status quo regarding proceedings against Asthana.
Kumar was granted bail on October 31.
Verma has said in the affidavit there was sufficient incriminating documents and evidence against all accused -- Asthana, Kumar and middleman Manoj Prasad -- with the CBI and the FIR was lodged after the PE disclosed cognisable offences.
It has claimed that Asthana's plea is misconceived, premature and not maintainable as investigation in the matter is at a nascent stage.
The Supreme Court had reserved judgement on Verma's plea, challenging the Centre's decision to divest him of all powers and sending him on leave.
Kumar, earlier the investigating officer in a case involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi, was arrested on the allegations of forgery in recording the statement of Sana who had alleged to have paid bribe to get relief in the case.
Sana, on whose complaint the FIR was lodged, had also made allegations of corruption, extortion, high-handedness and serious malpractices against Asthana.
Additional Superintendent of Police S S Gurm has also filed a similar plea in the court to be impleaded as a party. The court is yet to decide both the pleas.