- CBI Books Its Own Special Director Rakesh Asthana For Accepting Bribe
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- CBI Gets 7-Day Custody Of Deputy SP Devender Kumar In Bribery Case
The Supreme Court on Thursday said that it would consider an urgent hearing to a PIL seeking court-monitored SIT probe into allegations of corruption against various CBI officials, including Rakesh Asthana, who was divested of his responsibilities as the agency's special director.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi considered the submission of lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO Common Cause that there were wider issues of corruption affecting the probe agency and the PIL needed to be heard urgently.
The bench, which also comprised Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, asked Bhushan to provide details and said it would consider granting urgent hearing on the petition.
The NGO has sought relief including court-monitored Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe into allegations of corruption against CBI officials including Asthana, who along with CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma had been divested of powers and sent on leave.
The unprecedented internal feud between CBI Director and Asthana had reached the top court on Wednesday which agreed to hear on October 26 the former's plea assailing the Centre's decision to divest him of duties and sending him on leave.
Verma has assailed the decision of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) by which Joint Director M Nageswara Rao, a 1986 batch Odisha-cadre IPS officer, has been given the charge as head of the probe agency.
The feud between Verma and Asthana escalated recently leading to registration of an FIR against Asthana and others including Deputy Superintendent of Police Devender Kumar, who is presently in CBI's custody, in an alleged bribery case.
The FIR was lodged on a written complaint of Satish Babu Sana on October 15. It alleged that Kumar, the IO in a case, was repeatedly calling him to the CBI office to harass and compel him to pay bribe of Rs 5 crore for giving him a clean chit.
Asthana and Kumar both challenged the FIR in the Delhi High Court, which on Tuesday ordered CBI to maintain status quo on the criminal proceedings against Asthana.
The Centre, the CVC and the DoPT intervened and decided to send the CBI Director and the Special Director on leave.
In a late-night order, the government on Wednesday divested Central Bureau of Investigation ( CBI) chief Alok Verma of his charge and Joint Director M. Nageshwar Rao was asked to take charge as interim chief.
The development comes hours after Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana were sent on leave.
"The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved that during the period of the subsistence of the aforesaid interim measure, cited in reference above, Shri M Nageshwar Rao, IPS, presently working as Joint Director, CBI shall look after duties and functions of Director CBI and shall take over the duties and functions with immediate effect," the ministry of DoPT said in an order issued on Tuesday night.
Asthana was booked on Monday for accepting bribe to settle a case against meat exporter Moin Qureshi, who is facing multiple cases of money laundering and corruption.
The country's top probe agency alleged that bribes were taken at least five times in December 2017 and October 2018.
Asthana, a 1984 batch Indian Police Service officer of Gujarat cadre, is accused of accepting a bribe of Rs 2 crore from a businessman who was under probe in the Qureshi case in order to "wreck" the investigation. The case was being examined by a special investigation team (SIT) headed by Asthana.
Sources said the CBI lodged the FIR earlier this week after the arrest of a middleman Manoj, who has given a confessional statement before a magistrate confirming the payment of Rs 2 crore to Asthana.
(With inputs from agencies)