Asthana drags in CVC on FIR
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.