CBI's failure to file chargesheet within the mandatory 60 days led a Delhi court on Tuesday to grant statutory bail to an alleged middleman arrested in connection with a bribery case involving the probe agency's Special Director Rakesh Asthana.
Special CBI judge Santosh Snehi Mann granted relief to Manoj Prasad, accepting his submissions that he was entitled to statutory bail as the agency could not file its report within time.
Senior advocate Vikahs Pahwa, appearing for the accused, told the court that a first information report or FIR against Manoj Prasad under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act and the IPC "did not include any offence which was punishable with death, life imprisonment or for a term of maximum 10-year jail term".
The court said: "In view of the settled legal position, the statutory period for completion of investigation (filing of charge sheet) applicable to this case, when the accused is in judicial custody, is 60 days."
Manoj Prasad, arrested on October 17, was in judicial custody.
He was earlier denied bail by the trial court on November 3 and later by the Delhi High Court on November 13, which said that the allegations against him were serious in nature.
The CBI had opposed the application saying that the investigation was at a crucial stage.
The trial court had on October 31 granted bail to CBI DSP Devender Kumar, a co-accused who was arrested on October 23, after the agency chose not the oppose his application.
Manoj Prasad, Rakesh Asthana and CBI's Deputy Superintendent of Police Devender Kumar have also filed separate petitions in the high court seeking quashing of the FIR against them.
The CBI had registered the case against Asthana on the basis of a complaint from Hyderabad-based businessman Satish Sana, facing probe in the 2017 case allegedly involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi.
Satish Sana alleged that the officer had helped him get a clean chit.
The agency had arrested Prasad in the case, when he returned from Dubai. It was alleged by Sana that Prasad and his brother Somesh had taken Rs 2 crore to arrange a clean chit to him.
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