January 12, 2019:
On Friday, the Delhi HC said that CBI special director Rakesh Asthana will continue to face prosecution for alleged bribery.
It gave the CBI ten weeks to investigate the FIR lodged against him.
In a setback for Asthana and DSP Devender Kumar, the HC also vacated the interim order that granted the CBI’s second in command protection against criminal proceedings.
“The grounds of malafides of Alok Verma in registering the FIR are not made out. Nor can the allegations against the petitioner be conclusively ruled out at this stage,” Justice Najmi Waziri noted while dismissing the petitions filed by Asthana, Kumar and Prasad, challenging the FIR.
Asthana was booked on charges of criminal conspiracy, corruption & criminal misconduct under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Waziri also rejected the central argument of Asthana and Kumar that prior sanction from the government was mandatory for the CBI to register an FIR against them, relying on businessman Sathish Sana’s complaint to point out that he alleged coercion, threat and extortion of money.
“Such acts by a public servant cannot be said to be in discharge of his official function or duties,” the HC noted, saying that on that ground alone the bar of Section 17A of PCA doesn’t apply.
The HC also observed, “No doubt, registration of FIR and the corollary investigation would be a cause for much stress and embarrassment for any honest public servant. Nevertheless, where a cognizable offence is made out, the law must take its course.”
The HC acknowledged that Sana’s complaint didn’t mention any direct interaction with Asthana or Kumar in relation to ₹ 5 crore or any promise of leniency towards him.