Delhi HC grants CBI's Rakesh Asthana relief from arrest in bribery case

The Delhi high court has granted Central Bureau of Investigation special director Rakesh Asthana relief from arrest after he moved the court against the lodging of an FIR against him in a bribery case

A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon granted him relief from arrest till 29 October after Asthana sought the high court’s direction that no coercive action be taken against him.
Justice Menon allocated the matter to an appropriate bench that will hear it in a post-lunch session.
“This is a case of illegal registration of FIR. The person whose arrest was recommended by Asthana has now been made a complainant and based on his complaint this FIR has been filed. Any investigation without proper permission will be illegal,” Asthana’s counsel reportedly told the court.
Responding to this allegation, the counsel for CBI said, “The charges very serious against the accused, including that of bribery. Charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act along with criminal conspiracy, charges of extortion and forgery will be added.”
The matter will now be heard on 29 October when CBI director Alok Verma will have to respond to the allegations levelled by Asthana, the court directed that no action can be taken against him till then.
The court also directed the CBI to maintain status quo on the criminal proceedings initiated against Asthana. Although the CBI cannot arrest Asthana till 29 October, the high court clarified that there is no stay on the probe considering the nature and gravity of the case.
The CBI had yesterday arrested its deputy SP Devender Kumar in connection with bribery allegations involving the investigative agency’s second-in-command, Asthana.
Kumar, earlier the investigating officer in a case involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi, was arrested yesterday by the CBI on the allegations of forgery in recording the statement of businessman Sathish Sana, who had alleged to have paid bribe to get relief in the case.
In his statement, Sana had said that in June this year, he had discussed his case with Telugu Desam Party’s Rajya Sabha member CMRamesh who, after speaking to the CBI director, had assured him that he would not be summoned again.
“From June onwards, I was not called by the CBI. I was under the impression that investigation against me is complete,” he is believed to have said.
The CBI has now alleged that Kumar had fabricated this statement as an “afterthought…to corroborate the baseless allegations made by Asthana against Verma to the CVC (Central Vigilance Commissioner)”.
They said the agency was also looking into the alleged role of other members of the special investigation team headed by Asthana.
Asthana, who was booked by the agency on bribery charges in an unprecedented action, had complained against Verma on 24 August 2018.
Asthana had complained against Verma on 24 August 2018 that the latter had taken a bribe of Rs 2 crore from Sana to give him relief in the matter. He had informed the cabinet secretary nearly two months ago that Sathish Sana had allegedly bribed CBI Chief Alok Verma to get relief in the case.
A report by Times Now said Asthana had levelled charges of influencing probe by taking a bribe – that CBI chief Alok Verma had allegedly taken bribe in the Moin Qureshi case. 
Also, he had levelled charges of Verma excluding suspects from the FIR - Claims name of senior Railways official omitted from the FIR in IRCTC case. It also alleges that the CBI chief tried to call off raids at Lalu Yadav’s premises.
Asthana also alleges transfer of bank fraud case – that a bank fraud case against CBI officer has been transferred to Delhi under accused officer.
It also alleges that despite warning the accused in coal scam, the accused fled and no lookout notice has been served. 
Besides, Asthana has alleged illegal gratification and closure of a case involving Illegal land acquisition, which, he said, was closed allegedly after money changed hands.
Enquiry against gold smuggler in 2016 never reached ‘logical end’ when Verma was Delhi Commissioner of Police. Asthana also said Verma had attempted to induct tainted officers, and cited attempt to allegedly induct 2 tainted officers during his tenure.
The petition alleges undue interference in cases by Enforcement Directorate to exert alleged pressure on CBI cases against certain ED officers.
The CBI on Monday arrested Kumar in connection with the bribery allegations. Kumar, who was earlier the investigation officer in a case involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi, has been arrested on the allegations of forgery in recording the statement of Sana, police said.