CBI rejects Asthana plea against FIR SC quashes PIL against Jaitley
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?”