The Delhi High Court today rapped the Central Bureau of Investigation for the delay in their probe against former Special Director Rakesh Asthana and directed the agency's chief, RK Shukla, to appear in person if the investigation is not completed within four weeks. The next hearing in the case is on February 12.
On December 9 last year, the CBI had asked for more time from the high court to complete the probe against Mr Asthana in an alleged bribery case. The agency in its application had said that although it is trying to "complete the investigation as expeditiously as possible", the process of examining the probe report at various levels as per established protocol requires an extension of deadline.
A bribery case was filed against Rakesh Asthana on October 15, 2018, amid a public spat between him and then CBI director Alok Verma before the government finally transferred both of them out. The Delhi High Court, which was hearing a petition from Rakesh Asthana for scrapping the case, directed the CBI on January 11 to complete the probe within 10 weeks. However, the agency moved the court to seek more time, following which it was given a deadline of May 31.
The CBI subsequently approached the high court to seek a three-month extension until October 9, to which the bench allowed two months with a stern warning that "no further time would be granted". The CBI's present request for deadline extension is the third in the case.
Sources in the CBI told NDTV that Satish Dagar - the investigating officer in the case - has already completed the investigation, and the probe report has been submitted to his supervisory officers for further checks. "As per CBI procedure, a probe report has to go through eight levels of examination and legal scrutiny before it can be filed in court. The report on Rakesh Asthana has cleared three levels of examination, and still has five more to go," a senior official with the agency told NDTV.
The final clearance will have to be obtained from the CBI Director. "The process is almost done. The report will be filed in court once the verification and legal scrutiny is complete," a source said.
Sources told NDTV that officials who had filed the case against Rakesh Asthana in October 2018 have also been investigated by the agency. This includes then Deputy Inspector General (Anti-Corruption) MK Sinha, who was shifted out of the CBI along with the two top officials.
Incidentally, four months ago, Satish Dagar had applied for voluntary retirement with effect from December 1. However, sources told NDTV that the government has rejected his request.
Rakesh Asthana was charged with criminal conspiracy, corruption and criminal misconduct under relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act in a case involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi.