New Delhi, November 17, 2017:
The Supreme Court was moved on Thursday seeking to quash appointment of Rakesh Asthana as CBI’s Special Director, alleging that the agency’s head had opposed the choice as Asthana’s name figured in a corruption case being investigated by it.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had filed, on August 30, the charge sheet in the case concerning alleged payouts to various public servants by the Gujarat based Sterling Biotech Group and Sandesara Group.
The petitioner, NGO Common Cause, in its PIL, has contended that Asthana’s appointment as Special Director was illegal, arbitrary, mala fide and in violation of the principle of impeccable integrity and institutional integrity as laid down by the top court.
In its petition, Common Cause said that Asthana’s name allegedly figures in ‘Diary 2011’ which was recovered during raids by the Income Tax Department on June 28, 2011, on the premises of the Gujarat-based Sterling Biotech and Sandesara Group of Companies.
The said diary allegedly carries hand written entries on the financial transaction from January 1, 2011 to June 28, 2011.
Telling the court that Asthana was promoted as Special CBI Director despite non-compliance of the government’s order on the disclosure of assets – both moveable and immovable – belonging the officer or acquired on his behalf by any member of his family, Common Cause has sought direction to the Central government that Asthana be transferred out of CBI till investigation into the matter were completed.
It has also sought direction to the Centre and the CBI to produce the entire record relating to the selection and appointment of Asthana as Special Director, CBI including the agenda and the minutes of the selection committee meeting held on October 21.
It has also sought the production of note and material placed before the selection committee by CBI Director Alok Verma who had opposed promotion of Asthana as Special Director and submitted a two page note to the selection committee objecting to the proposal.
Common Cause had in December last year moved the top court for the quashing of Asthana’s appointment as interim, Director, CBI after Anil Sinha demitted office on his superannuation.
For making Asthana as an interim Director, just two days before Anil Sinha was to retire on December 2, 2016, the then Special Director R.K. Dutta was transferred to Union Home Ministry by creating a post of Special Secretary by upgrading, by two layers, the Joint Secretary’s post.
The top court had issued notice to Centre on Common Cause’s plea on December 9, 2016.