Relief for Rakesh Asthana: Delhi HC tells CBI to maintain status quo

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday was told by CBI special director Rakesh Asthana that CBI didn’t take prior sanction to carry out investigation against him as per the 2018 amendment to prevention of corruption (PC) Act which stipulates “prior sanction is necessary to initiate investigation against serving officer”. The matter was posted for next hearing to Oct 29. Senior Advocate Amarendra Sharan appearing for Rakesh Asthana said, “This is a case of illegal registration of FIR against CBI Special Director based on a statement of an accused.” To which the single judge bench of Justice Najmi Waziri asked Sharan whether the provision bars registration of FIR without prior sanction. Sharan replied: “Yes, it is necessary. As per the 2018 amendment to PC Act, to carry out investigation against serving officer prior sanction is necessary. But in this case no sanction was taken.” CBI Special Public Prosecutor Raghav Acharya contended that apart from 17A of PC Act Sections 388, 389, 468, 467, 384 of IPC were added. “Where there is a charge of bribery 17A PC Act can’t be used for rescue,” he said. The court asked: “What will be the nature of this case?” Acharya replied: “Corruption and Bribery charges. In a charge of bribery, permission is not required. We will give all details in a sealed cover.” The bench issued notice to CBI and told it maintain status quo further asking it to file response on it. CBI said that it will bring on record criminal provisions on which FIR is registered and submits that they will place all documents in court in a sealed cover. The bench also told Asthana and CBI Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Devender Kumar to preserve all electronic records in his custody including mobile phones. The bench was hearing the petitions filed by Asthana and Kumar seeking quashing of FIRs in connection with bribery allegations against them.

—India Legal Bureau