CBI re­jects Asthana plea against FIR SC quashes PIL against Jait­ley

Hindustan Times (Noida) - - NATION - Richa Banka [email protected] HT Cor­re­spon­dent let­[email protected]­dus­tan­times.com

NEWDELHI: The Cen­tral Bu­reau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion (CBI) on Fri­day op­posed a plea by its spe­cial di­rec­tor Rakesh Asthana to quash a first in­for­ma­tion re­port (FIR) the agency had filed against him, and said it didn’t need prior sanc­tion to pros­e­cute him be­cause he hadn’t com­mit­ted the crime he is ac­cused of dur­ing the dis­charge of his of­fi­cial du­ties.

Ap­pear­ing for the CBI in the Delhi high court, ad­di­tional so­lic­i­tor gen­eral (ASG) Vikramjit Baner­jee said even ASG PS Narasimha had opined that prior sanc­tion was not re­quired to pros­e­cute Asthana in the case.

“What­ever has been done has not been done in the dis­charge of his of­fi­cial duty and hence sanc­tion is not re­quired to pros­e­cute him (Asthana),” he ar­gued.

The case against Asthana was reg­is­tered in Oc­to­ber by the CBI un­der its di­rec­tor Alok Verma on a com­plaint by a Hy­der­abad­based busi­ness­man, Sana Satish Babu, who al­leged that two Dubai-based broth­ers – Manoj Prasad and Somesh Prasad – claimed that they were act­ing on be­half of the CBI spe­cial di­rec­tor and al­legedly struck a deal for ~5 crore to pro­tect him in a case that the agency reg­is­tered against meat ex­porter Moin Qureshi.

ASG Baner­jee said the com­plaint by Sana showed a cog­nis­able of­fence.

CBI di­rec­tor Verma and Asthana, his im­me­di­ate deputy, were stripped of their pow­ers and sent on leave in Oc­to­ber as a feud be­tween the two of­fi­cers be­came in­creas­ingly pub­lic, with each ac­cus­ing the other of cor­rup­tion.

Baner­jee made his sub­mis­sions af­ter se­nior ad­vo­cate Amaren­dra Sha­ran told the court that the Cen­tral Vig­i­lance Com­mis­sion (CVC) wrote a let­ter to CBI on Oc­to­ber 15, ask­ing it not to take any ac­tion against Asthana without its prior ap­proval. The let­ter was a re­sult of sev­eral com­mu­ni­ca­tions sent by Asthana to the CVC, com­plain­ing that he was be­ing vic­timised.

“How­ever, even af­ter this ‘com­plete em­bargo’, the CBI reg­is­tered a case against Asthana without tak­ing prior sanc­tion re­quired un­der the rel­e­vant sec­tion of the Preven­tion of Cor­rup­tion (PC) Act,” Sha­ran told jus­tice Nazmi Wa­jiri, adding that it (FIR) was “de­lib­er­ately given a go ahead”. Coun­ter­ing the ar­gu­ments, ASG Baner­jee said he did not have clue about any let­ter writ­ten by the CVC.

Dur­ing the over two-hour-long ar­gu­ments, Sha­ran also said the CVC had given a clean chit to his client. The CVC in­ves­ti­gated charges lev­elled against Verma by Asthana and sub­mit­ted a re­port to the SC last month.

Sha­ran’s claim did not go down well with the judge, who said, “How do you say this? Have you seen the (CVC) re­port? NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Fri­day dis­missed a pub­lic in­ter­est lit­i­ga­tion ac­cus­ing fi­nance min­is­ter Arun Jait­ley of seek­ing to tap the cap­i­tal re­serves of the Re­serve Bank of In­dia (RBI) to waive loans to big cor­po­rate houses and im­posed a fine of ~50,000 on the pe­ti­tioner, ad­vo­cate ML Sharma.

“We find no rea­son what­so­ever to en­ter­tain this PIL,” said a bench led by chief jus­tice Ran­jan Go­goi. The bench, also com­pris­ing jus­tice SK Kaul, re­strained the top court reg­istry from ac­cept­ing any fresh pe­ti­tion filed by Sharma un­til he de­posits the fine.

The bench ex­pressed dis­plea­sure at the way Sharma had made the fi­nance min­is­ter the main party in the PIL. Al­though the lawyer of­fered to delete the min­is­ter’s name, the bench was still not in­clined to hear the mat­ter. It warned the lawyer of heavy costs but Sharma re­mained adamant and ad­vanced ar­gu­ments, forc­ing the bench to im­pose the fine.

Once the or­der was dic­tated, Sharma urged the court to do away with the fine. He said the pe­ti­tion was not re­lated to his pri­vate con­cerns but dealt with a pub­lic is­sue. The judges re­mained un­con­vinced even as Sharma said he had stopped his prac­tice be­cause of health rea­sons.

Be­fore the court dis­missed Sharma’s pe­ti­tion, it praised him for his past work. “What kind of PIL is this? Just be­cause you have done some good work does not mean you can go on like this. You can­not go on with such mis­ad­ven­ture. What ex­actly is this? You are say­ing the fi­nance min­is­ter is plun­der­ing the cap­i­tal re­serve of the RBI,” CJI Go­goi told Sharma.

The lawyer made an at­tempt to ex­plain his pe­ti­tion, but the bench said, “We do not sub­scribe to such plea and pick­ing on peo­ple. You are not bring­ing honour to this in­sti­tu­tion. Why do we per­mit you to go ahead with this PIL?”

Arun Jait­ley

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