In CBI vs CBI, No Arrest For No. 2 Rakesh Asthana Till Monday: 10 Points

Sources in the PM's office say the CBI has not sought permission to act against Rakesh Asthana, as is required in such cases


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

New Delhi:  The Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI was taken to court today by its Number 2 officer Rakesh Asthana, who challenged bribery charges against him and asked for protection from arrest. He will not be arrested at least till Monday -- when the case is taken up next -- the Delhi High Court said, issuing notice to the CBI and its chief Alok Verma, Mr Asthana's boss. "The nature and gravity of the case is such that no stay can be granted," said the court. Mr Asthana's lawyer had said that his client "fears arrest and coercive steps".
Here are 10 points on the developing story:
  1. The High Court's order came in response to a petition by Rakesh Asthana and his arrested officer Devender Kumar, who challenged the agency's First Information Report. Mr Asthana is accused number one in the FIR, Mr Kumar has been named as accused number 2. 
  2. Devendra Kumar's lawyer argued that the FIR is an effort to derail the case against meat exporter Moin Qureshi. Devender Kumar was the investigating officer in the case, in which Rakesh Asthana's name has cropped up. The CBI claimed that Kumar was part of extortion racket being run in the garb of investigation. The agency has been granted his custody for seven days.
  3. NDTV has learnt that the FIR filed against Mr Asthana on October 15 is under the Prevention of Corruption Act 13(1)D, which no longer exists. Under the current version of the law, the investigating authorities have to prove that the accused official has benefitted financially, else he cannot be found guilty of corruption.
  4. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has met both officials. Alok Verma, who met him over the weekend, has written to the government seeking Mr Asthana's suspension. In the letter, he said Mr Asthana's continuation in the CBI "is a source of demoralisation" for other officers, sources said.
  5. There are reports that PM Modi also spoke to the RAW chief Anil Dasmana, since officials of the country's external intelligence agency have also come under the ambit of investigation. Senior RAW officer Samant Goel was mentioned in the FIR against Rakesh Asthana. Mr Goel is a Special Secretary and number four in the agency hierarchy.
  6. The FIR against Mr Asthana is based on claims of Sathish Sana, a Hyderabad-based businessman linked to the Moin Qureshi case. Devender Kumar has been accused of forgery during recording the statement of Sathish Sana, who claimed to have paid a bribe of Rs 2 crore to get relief in the case.
  7. Manoj Prasad, an investment banker based in Dubai, was allegedly the middleman who asked him to pay the bribe. Manoj Prasad was arrested on October 16 when he was returning from Dubai to allegedly collect an installment of the agreed bribe amount.
  8. After the FIR against him was filed, Mr Asthana, in retaliation, wrote to the government last week, listing a series of charges against his boss Alok Verma. Mr Asthana alleged that it was the CBI chief who took the bribe but framed him because he prevented Satish Sana from escaping the country.
  9. Earlier this month, Mr Asthana had accused the CBI chief of trying to frame him in the case of Gujarat-based company Sterling Biotech, which is being investigated for loan default.
  10. The case took a political twist with Congress president Rahul Gandhi targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the infighting and accusing him, again, of making the agency a weapon of political vendetta.

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