Asthana drags in CVC on FIR

The Free Press Journal - - FRONT PAGE -

Benched Spe­cial Direc­tor Rakesh Asthana, No 2 in the CBI, has tried to take cover of the Cen­tral Vig­i­lance Com­mis­sion (CVC) in his bid to get the FIR of cor­rup­tion quashed by Delhi High Court. His coun­sel Amaren­dra Saran told the High Court on Fri­day that the CVC had specif­i­cally is­sued a di­rec­tion to CBI on Oc­to­ber 15 not to take any steps against Asthana with­out prior ap­proval.

This was to counter CBI direc­tor Alok Verma''s af­fi­davit that the agency reg­is­tered the FIR af­ter the le­gal ad­vice of Ad­di­tional So­lic­i­tor Gen­eral PS Narasimha Rao that prior gov­ern­ment ap­proval was not need to reg­is­ter an FIR against a pub­lic ser­vant on al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion.

Jus­tice Na­jmi Waziri, how­ever, nailed Saran's claim, ask­ing why the CVC passed the or­der on the very day the CBI reg­is­tered the FIR against Asthana and oth­ers nor any ev­i­dence that the CVC or­der came be­fore the FIR was reg­is­tered. The judge also wanted to know how CVC came to know about the move against Asthana to is­sue such an or­der.

Asthana''s lawyer tried to wrig­gle out al­leg­ing that the FIR was "back­dated" in a mala fide man­ner to show as if it were al­ready reg­is­tered be­fore the CVC or­der came. Se­nior ad­vo­cate Dayan Kr­ish­nan, ap­pear­ing for Asthana's aide Deven­dra Ku­mar, urged the court to call for the case di­ary to con­firm that date on which the FIR was filed. When Saran claimed the CVC had is­sued direc­tions since Asthana had made a num­ber of charges against direc­tor Verma and that made the lat­ter prej­u­diced to ha­rass him, CBI''s coun­sel Vikramjit Baner­jee said it is not clear whether the CVC's di­rec­tion was to stop all in­quiries against Asthana or in the spe­cific case of bribe taken by him and Deven­dra Ku­mar as al­leged in a sworn-in state­ment of a Hy­der­abad busi­ness­man. The High Court ex­tended its Oc­to­ber 23 in­terim or­der against Asthana for "sta­tus quo" un­til the next hear­ing on De­cem­ber 14 in the crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings against Asthana in con­nec­tion with the FIR. Asthana''s lawyer tried to build a case by lay­ing out a time­line of com­mu­ni­ca­tions, start­ing with Asthana's com­plaints against Verma to the CVC and the Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary in Au­gust and the CVC had writ­ten to the CBI not to hold any bi­ased probe against Asthana on Septem­ber 20 af­ter get­ting his com­plaint from the Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary for a probe. He said the CVC kept writ­ing to the CBI direc­tor to pro­vide cer­tain files, first on Septem­ber 25 and then on Oc­to­ber 3 and fi­nally on Oc­to­ber 15 stat­ing Asthana''s ap­pre­hen­sions that a false case was be­ing cooked up against him.

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