CBI’s Case Against Rakesh Asthana Based On A Lapsed Law

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The CBI infighting began when its chief Alok Verma objected to Rakesh Asthana's appointment last year.

New Delhi:

The case filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation against its Special Director RK Asthana is full of legal loopholes, NDTV learnt as the battle between the two top bosses of the agency reached the Delhi High Court today. For one, the First Information Report that was filed against Mr Asthana on October 15 is based on a certain clause of the anti-corruption law which no longer exists.

Mr Asthana, who was named as the main accused in a bribery case by the agency, has challenged the FIR against him in the Delhi High Court. So has Devender Kumar, a member of his team, who was arrested by the agency yesterday.

The case against Mr Asthana was filed under the Prevention of Corruption Act 13(1)D, which lapsed when the act was amended in July. The clause was used frequently against any public official who abused his position to benefit someone else.

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In July, however, this was amended. Under the current version of the law, the investigating authorities have to prove that the accused official himself has benefitted financially, else he cannot be found guilty of corruption.

The new law also demands that prior sanction be taken to file a case against an official, which was not taken in this case.

Legal experts said this means the FIR against Mr Asthana is not legally valid and can be quashed.

The CBI, however, claimed the case will stand. "The acts pertain to a period that was before this law lapsed," said a CBI spokesperson, adding, "Let the courts decide".

Already Deputy Superintendent of Police Devender Kumar has appealed to court to quash the FIR. Mr Kumar, who approached the Delhi High Court this morning, also sought bail in another court.

Mr Kumar was the investigating officer in the money laundering case that involved meat exporter Moin Qureishi, in which Mr Asthana's name has cropped up.

The FIR against Mr Asthana is based on the claims of Sathish Sana, a Hyderabad-based businessman who is being investigated in the case. The CBI says Sathish Sana told a magistrate that he had paid Rs. 2 crore as bribe to Mr Asthana over a 10 month period from December last year so he would be spared.

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