C B I will continue the probe against its Special Director and main accused Rakesh Asthana,

The agency will also take away all responsibilities from Mr. Asthana.

The Central Bureau of Investigation  will continue the probe against its Special Director and main accused Rakesh Asthana, and others in a bribery case,. It will also take away all responsibilities from Mr. Asthana, who is No. 2 in the country’s apex investigative agency.

“The [Delhi] High Court has rejected quashing the FIR filed against him and others. So the probe will continue and status quo will be maintained only in respect of two petitioners — Rakesh Asthana and Devender Kumar,” a top CBI official told demkraticfront.com.

Mr. Asthana had not been attending office for the last two days. “All responsibilities will be taken away from him considering the sensitivity of the case in which he is an accused, and also to ensure that no fudging of documents take place,” the official said.

When asked whether Mr. Asthana has been asked to proceed on leave, he said, “The CBI Director will write to the government seeking his immediate transfer from the agency on the ground that his continued presence may hamper the probe in the case.”

It may be noted that the CBI Director has reportedly recommended his suspension from the service pending investigation in the bribery case.

The Delhi High Court on October 23 directed the CBI to maintain status quo on the criminal proceedings initiated against Mr. Asthana, who has challenged the FIR lodged against him on bribery allegations.

The High Court clarified that there was no stay on the ongoing probe.

Justice Najmi Waziri also sought the response of the agency and its Director Alok Kumar Verma, as also its Joint Director A.K. Sharma, on the separate pleas of Mr. Asthana and Deputy Superintendent Devender Kumar, who was arrested in the bribery case on October 22.

Notice has also been issued to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), the administrative arm of the CBI.

The court asked both Mr. Asthana and Mr. Kumar to preserve the records of the case and also their mobile records. It posted the matter for hearing on October 29.

During the hearing, the CBI said charges against Mr. Asthana are serious and the agency was investigating the matter and was likely to add more offences in the FIR.

Mr. Asthana’s counsel and senior advocate Amrendra Sharan said it was the case of an illegal registration of an FIR against the Special Director, based on the statement of the accused.

Senior advocate Dayan Krishnan appeared for Mr. Kumar for quashing of the FIR against him.

Asthana’s plea

Mr. Asthana has also sought direction be passed that no coercive action be taken against him by the CBI. He moved the petition on October 23, hours after Mr. Kumar approached the court, which agreed to give an urgent hearing.

Both the petitions were mentioned before Chief Justice Rajendra Menon, who allocated the matter for hearing before Justice Waziri.

Mr. Kumar, who was the investigating officer in a case involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi, was arrested 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, Mr. Sana purportedly said that in June 2018, he discussed his case with Telugu Desam Party’s Rajya Sabha member C.M. Ramesh who, after speaking to the CBI Director, 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 Mr. Kumar fabricated this statement as an “afterthought… to corroborate the baseless allegations made by Asthana against CBI Director Mr. Verma to the CVC [Central Vigilance Commissioner]”. They said the agency was also looking into the alleged role of the other members of the special investigation team headed by Mr. Asthana, who had also complained against Mr. Verma.

Seven-day CBI custody for Kumar

Meanwhile, a Delhi court allowed the CBI to quiz Mr. Kumar in custody for seven days.

Special CBI Judge Santosh Snehi Mann remanded him to the custody of CBI, which had sought 10 days of his custodial interrogation, alleging that it had recovered incriminating documents after raiding his office and residence.

The CBI has claimed that Mr. Kumar was part of an extortion racket being run in the garb of investigation.

Mr. Kumar’s counsel, however, opposed the submission and moved a bail plea before the court.

The CBI has also sought the court’s nod to add some more sections in the present FIR against the accused, including Mr. Kumar.

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