Asthana to move SC as Delhi HC refuses to cancel case against him

HC asks CBI to complete investigation within ten weeks

32-Rakesh-Asthana Rakesh Asthana

CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana has decided to approach the Supreme Court after the Delhi High Court on Friday refused to cancel the case filed against him and asked the CBI to complete investigation within ten weeks. 

Asthana had challenged the FIR against him, where he has been charged with criminal conspiracy, corruption and criminal misconduct.

Sources said Asthana is already consulting senior lawyers on approaching the Supreme Court against the HC's decision.

The development came a day after CBI Director Alok Verma was sacked by a three-member selection panel led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday after being reinstated by the Supreme Court. The government had, in October, sent both Verma and Asthana on leave after they accused each other of corruption. While Asthana accused Verma of interference in key cases and corruption, Verma ordered the registration of FIR against Asthana, accusing him of corruption.

Meanwhile, it was an eventful day on Friday at the CBI headquarters where interim director M. Nageshwar Rao took charge on Thursday night. This is the second time Rao has been made interim chief, the first instance being in October after the government issued midnight orders to appoint him as acting director. Once again, Rao was at CBI headquarters at night, taking charge at 9 pm on Thursday night. The first decision taken by Rao was to declare the transfer orders issued by Verma as ''null and void''. Incidentally, it was Rao, as interim director, who was present at the CBI headquarters to welcome Alok Verma back in office on Wednesday, albeit for a day, after he was reinstated by the apex court. On Wednesday, Verma reversed the transfer orders issued by Rao. 

But with Verma's exit, Rao did not waste time and reversed the decision. Meanwhile, Joint Director Sai Manohar, who led the CBI team during the extradition proceedings of liquor baron Vijay Mallya in UK Court in December last and was instrumental in the smooth extradition of AgustaWestland middleman Christian Michel, continues to lead the Special Investigation Team of the CBI. 

Asthana, meanwhile, continues to sit out and is looking towards the apex court for relief. 

As Asthana's fate hangs in balance, his fight back assumes significance as the government will soon be drawing up a list to appoint the next CBI director. If Asthana manages to get his FIR quashed, he will be looking at a continued innings at the CBI, being the number 2 and the senior most officer in the agency. Verma was due to retire on January 31.