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ASG opined government approval not needed for FIR against Rakesh Asthana, Alok Verma tells Delhi HC

CBI, CBI vs CBI, rakesh asthana, CVC, Supreme Court, Alok VermaVerma’s affidavit also claims that Asthana’s plea is misconceived, premature and not maintainable as investigation in the matter is at a nascent stage.

CBI Director Alok Verma 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 lodging FIR against Special Director Rakesh Asthana. In response to Asthana’s plea challenging the FIR, Verma has said 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. 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 Asthana in his plea seeking quashing of the FIR was that no prior approval of the central government was taken before it was registered.

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 Asthana and Kumar, seeking quashing of the FIR, had said allegations against them and others show cognisable offences. While Kumar is out on bail at present, the high court since October 23 has been directing CBI to maintain status quo regarding proceedings against Asthana.

Verma’s affidavit also claims that Asthana’s plea is misconceived, premature and not maintainable as investigation in the matter is at a nascent stage. It is well settled that courts should not interfere in investigations, more so in cases where cognisable offences are disclosed. Kumar, earlier the investigating officer in a case involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi, was arrested on the allegations of forgery in the recording of the statement of businessman Sathish Babu Sana who had alleged to have paid bribe to get relief in the case.

The FIR against Asthana was lodged on the complaint by Sana alleging corruption, extortion, high handedness and serious malpractices against him, the affidavit said. The high court on November 28 had allowed Verma and Joint Director A K Sharma to inspect in the CVC’s office the case file relating to FIR against Asthana. Verma, in his reply, has sought the court’s permission to file later another response after going through the files in the CVC office.

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Source: Financial Express