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HC seeks CBI response on Sana's plea for hearing him in Asthana case

twitter-logoPTI | December 11, 2018 | Updated 15:13 IST

(Eds: Adds background) New Delhi, Dec 11 (PTI) The Delhi High Court Tuesday sought the CBI's response on a plea by Hyderabad-based businessman Satish Babu Sana seeking to be heard in a matter relating to the quashing of an FIR registered against Special Director Rakesh Asthana on bribery allegations. Justice Najmi Waziri also sought reply of Asthana, CBI Director Alok Verma and Joint Director A K Sharma on the plea of Sana requesting him to be impleaded as a party in Asthana's petition seeking quashing of the FIR. Senior advocate Salman Khurshid, appearing for Sana, said the FIR was filed on the basis of his complaint. He was helping the agency in the investigation and should also be heard. Additional Solicitor General Vikramjit Banerjee and advocate Rajdipa Behura, representing the CBI, said there was no need to implead Sana. CBI Deputy Superintendent of Police Devender Kumar, earlier the investigating officer in a case involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi, was arrested on the allegations of forgery in recording the statement of Sana who had alleged to have paid bribe to get relief in the case. He had also made allegations of corruption, extortion, high handedness and serious malpractices against Asthana. Kumar was granted bail by a Delhi court on October 31. In a previous hearing, Asthana had claimed in the high court that prior government nod was needed for lodging FIR against him and Kumar in the graft case, a submission which was vehemently denied by his senior. In response to Asthana's plea challenging the FIR, Verma had said in his affidavit that Additional Solicitor General (ASG) P S Narasimha's view was sought by the CBI on the need for prior government approval to lodge an FIR against public servants facing allegations of corruption and he had opined that it was not required. Asthana's submission was countered by CBI, Verma and Joint Director A K Sharma who had argued that no sanction was required as the allegations against the two officers were not in relation to the discharge of their duties or any recommendation made or decision taken by them. Senior advocates Amarendra Sharan and Dayan Krishnan, appearing for Asthana and Kumar respectively, had told the court that the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) had sent two communications in October this year to CBI asking it not to register an FIR or take action against the two officers without prior approval. They argued that section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act makes it mandatory that prior approval has to be taken before lodging an FIR or initiating preliminary enquiry against a public servant. The court had asked CBI as to how Sana met with another officer of the agency and went to a District Court here to record his statement before a magistrate in connection with the allegations he had made, when Kumar was the IO. Banerjee said that Sana's complaint was directly made to Verma and proper procedure was followed by the agency before lodging an FIR. He also said that section 17A of PC Act would not apply as the allegations against Asthana and Kumar were not in relation to discharge of their official duties. However, this was opposed by senior advocate Sharan, who said that since Asthana had already written to the Cabinet and the CVC against Verma, the action taken against him was in relation to discharge of his official duties. The court had extended till the next date its interim order directing CBI to maintain status quo regarding proceedings against Asthana. Kumar is out on bail at present. It also took on record Verma's affidavit which said there was sufficient incriminating documents and evidence against all accused -- Asthana, Kumar and middleman Manoj Prasad -- with CBI and FIR was lodged after the preliminary enquiry disclosed cognizable offences. The Supreme Court had reserved judgement on Verma's plea, challenging the Centre's decision to divest him of all powers and sending him on leave. PTI SKV LLP SA

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