The Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed the CBI to maintain status quo on the criminal proceedings initiated against its special director Rakesh Asthana, who has challenged the FIR lodged against him on bribery allegations. The high court clarified that there was no stay on the ongoing probe. Justice Najmi Waziri also sought response of the probe agency and its Director Alok Kumar Verma as also Joint Director A K Sharma on the separate pleas of Asthana and Deputy Superintendent Devender Kumar, arrested in the bribery case. The notice has also been issued to Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), which is the administrative arm for the CBI. The order asking the agency to maintain the status quo has been issued on the plea of Asthana only. The high court asked both Asthana and Kumar to preserve the records of the case and also their mobile records. It posted the matter for hearing on October 29.
During the hearing, CBI said charges against Asthana are serious and the agency was investigating the matter and is likely to add more offences in the FIR. Asthana's counsel and senior advocate Amrendra Sharan said it is the case of illegal registration of FIR against the Special CBI Director which is based on the statement of accused. Senior advocate Dayan Krishnan appeared for Kumar for quashing of the FIR against him. Asthana and Kumar have filed separate petitions. Asthana has also sought direction be passed that no coercive action be taken against him by the CBI. Asthana moved the petition on Tuesday, hours after Kumar approached the high court which agreed to give an urgent hearing. Both the petitions were mentioned before Chief Justice Rajendra Menon, who allocated the matter for hearing before Justice Waziri. The CBI had yesterday arrested its DSP, Kumar, in connection with bribery allegations involving the investigative agency's second-in-command, Asthana. 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 businessman Sathish Sana, who had alleged to have paid bribe to get relief in the case.
In his statement, Sana had purportedly said that he had in June this year discussed his case with Telugu Desam Party's Rajya Sabha member C M Ramesh who, after speaking to the CBI Director, had assured him that he would not be summoned again. "From June onwards, I was not called by the CBI. I was under the impression that investigation against me is complete," he is believed to have said. The CBI has now alleged that Kumar had fabricated this statement as an "afterthought...to corroborate the baseless allegations made by Asthana against CBI Director Alok Verma to the CVC (Central Vigilance Commissioner)". They said the agency was also looking into the alleged role of other members of the special investigation team headed by Asthana. Asthana, who was booked by the agency on bribery charges in an unprecedented action, had complained against Verma.