Supreme Court reserves order on Rakesh Asthana’s appointment as CBI Special Director

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The Supreme Court on Friday said that it will pass order on 28 November on a plea challenging the appointment of Gujarat cadre IPS officer Rakesh Asthana as a special director of the CBI.

Rakesh Asthana
(Photo Source: Rakesh Asthana / Facebook)
The petition was heard by a bench comprising Justice R.K. Agrawal and Justice Manohar Sapre. Prashant Bhushan argued on behalf of the petitioners and pointed out to the court that the appointment of Asthana was in violation of the principle of institutional integrity as laid down by the Supreme Court in the CVC case ( CPIL v Union of India) since his name appeared in the “Diary 2011” seized in the raid on Sterling Biotech Group owned by Sandesaras on which CBI itself has registered two FIRs.
Bhushan said that Asthana’s appointment would hamper the functioning and investigation being conducted by the CBI. It was also submitted to the court that the son of Rakesh Asthana worked with the same Sterling Biotech between 2010-2012 and the pre-wedding party of the daughter of Rakesh Asthana was held on 24 Nov 2016 (last year) at a farmhouse owned by the Sandesaras. Bhushan also highlighted that Asthana had not submitted his property returns for 2016 which is prerequisite for vigilance clearance required for any empanelment, promotion etc in the CBI as per DoPT notifications.

He said the diary showed the name of Asthana as having received an illegal gratification from a company and CBI has recently registered an FIR for money laundering against the accused firm and some public servants.

Attorney General opposed the plea and said the CBI has not named him in the FIR and Asthana has an outstanding career.

He said Asthana, who was earlier an additional director in CBI, was looking after eleven zones and supervising high- profile scams including that of AgustaWestland, Kingfisher, Moin Qureshi and Hassan Ali, reported PTI.

The bench, after hearing the arguments of both the sides, said it will pass the order.

Demanding quashing of Asthana’s appointment, the petitioner has also sought a direction to the Centre to transfer him out of the agency during the pendency of investigation.

It has alleged that the decision to appoint Asthana was “illegal” and “arbitrary”.

The petitioner has claimed that the government and the selection committee had overruled the opinion of the CBI Director while appointing Asthana “in violation of the law”.

While seeking Asthana’s ouster, the plea noted the special director was the second in command in the CBI after the director and supervised almost all important cases being handled by the agency.

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