ASG opined Govt approval not needed for FIR against Asthana: Verma to HC
BITTER feud between CBI Director Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana resurfaced on Friday in the Delhi High Court when Asthana claimed that prior Government nod was needed for lodging FIR against him and DSP Devender Kumar in a graft case, a submission which was vehemently denied by his senior.
In response to Asthana’s plea challenging the FIR, Verma said in his affidavit that Additional Solicitor General (ASG) P S Narasimha’s view was sought by the CBI on the need for prior Government approval to lodge an FIR against public servants facing allegations of corruption and he had opined that it was not required.
Asthana’s submission before Justice Najmi Waziri was countered by CBI, Verma and Joint Director A K Sharma who argued that no sanction was required as the allegations against the two officers were not in relation to the discharge of their duties or any recommendation made or decision taken by them.
Senior advocates Amarendra Sharan and Dayan Krishnan, appearing for Asthana and Kumar respectively, told the court that the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) had sent two communications in October this year to CBI asking it not to register an FIR or take action against the two officers without prior approval.
They argued that section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act makes it mandatory that prior approval has to be taken before lodging an FIR or initiating preliminary enquiry against a public servant.
“It was deliberately and knowingly given a go-bye,” they argued and urged the court to call for the files, including the case diaries, to ascertain the reason for this step. “He cannot on his own decide not to invoke 17A. He has to record reasons why it was not applicable,” Krishnan argued.
The court asked the CBI about the effect of such a CVC communication to take prior approval. “Assuming there is a direction like that, what would be your stand? Will it stay your hands,” the court asked to which Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Vikramjit Banerjee, appearing for CBI, said he will need to go through the communications before answering.