Did CBI Need Approval To Charge Rakesh Asthana? Two Sides Spar In Court

Did CBI Need Approval To Charge Rakesh Asthana? Two Sides Spar In Court

NEW DELHI: CBI Director on Friday told the Delhi High Court that a senior law officer had suggested to the agency that prior government approval was not needed before filing a complaint against Special Director Rakesh Asthana.

In response to Mr Asthana's plea challenging the first information report or FIR, Mr Verma has said that Additional Solicitor General (ASG) PS 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.

According to the affidavit, the ASG had clarified that prior sanction to lodge FIR was not required when an investigation was already underway and when a cognizable offence comes to the notice of a law enforcement agency.

The affidavit said the ASG "opined that there is no need for obtaining any sanction or approval of competent authority under section 17A of Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act if an enquiry or investigation has already commenced on the date section 17A came into force".

It also said that the ASG had "advised that whenever a cognizable offence comes to the notice of law enforcement agency, the FIR or preliminary enquiry (PE) must be registered and it should not await prior approval under section 17A".

One of the grounds taken by Mr Asthana in his plea seeking quashing of the FIR was that no prior approval of the central government was taken before it was registered.

Mr Verma has contended that in the instant matter, there were sufficient incriminating documents and evidence against all accused -- Asthana, DSP Devender Kumar and middleman Manoj Prasad -- with CBI and FIR was lodged after the PE disclosed cognizable offences.

Earlier, CBI in its reply to the pleas of Mr Asthana and Mr Kumar, seeking quashing of the FIR, had said allegations against them and others show cognisable offences.

While Mr Kumar is out on bail at present, the high court since October 23 has been directing CBI to maintain status quo regarding proceedings against Mr Asthana.

Mr Verma's affidavit also claims that Mr Asthana's plea is misconceived, premature and not maintainable as investigation in the matter is at a nascent stage.