New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday said it would consider urgent hearing to a PIL seeking court-monitored SIT probe into allegations of corruption against various CBI officials, including Rakesh Asthana, who was divested of his responsibilities as the agency’s special director.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi considered the submission of lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO Common Cause that there were wider issues of corruption affecting the probe agency and the PIL needed to be heard urgently.
The bench, which also comprised Justices S.K. Kaul and K.M. Joseph, asked Bhushan to provide details and said it would consider granting urgent hearing on the petition. The NGO sought relief, including court-monitored Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe, into allegations of corruption against CBI officials including Asthana, who along with CBI director Alok Kumar Verma, had been divested of powers and sent on leave.
The unprecedented internal feud between CBI director and Asthana had reached the top court on Wednesday, which agreed to hear on 26 October the former’s plea assailing the Centre’s decision to divest him of duties and sending him on leave.
Joint director M Nageswara Rao, a 1986 batch Odisha-cadre IPS officer, has been given the charge as head of the probe agency.
The feud between Verma and Asthana escalated recently, leading to the registration of an FIR against Asthana and others, including deputy superintendent of police Devender Kumar, currently in CBI’s custody, in an alleged bribery case.
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The FIR was lodged on a written complaint of Satish Babu Sana on 15 October. It alleged that Kumar, the investigating officer in a case, was repeatedly calling him to the CBI office to harass and compel him to pay a bribe of ₹ 5 crore for giving him a clean chit.
Asthana and Kumar both challenged the FIR in the Delhi High Court, which on Tuesday ordered CBI to maintain status quo on the criminal proceedings against Asthana.
The Centre, the CVC and the DoPT intervened and decided to send the CBI director and special director on leave.
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