Rakesh Asthana case: HC directs CBI director to appear in court on Feb 10 if probe not completed

New Delhi, Jan 8 (PTI) The Delhi High Court Wednesday directed CBI Director Rishi Kumar Shukla to be present before it on February 10, if the agency fails to complete the investigation into a bribery case allegedly involving its then special director Rakesh Asthana.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru pulled up the CBI for not completing the investigation in a time bound manner despite multiple court orders passed in the case and for repeatedly seeking extension of time to conclude the probe.

'We cannot go on like this. We have passed orders after orders. The thing is you (CBI) have not followed the orders, now lets see what are the consequences. Time was given to you to complete the investigation, it must have some meaning,' the judge said.

The court said this time it will not show any flexibility as judicial orders cannot be allowed to be stifled.

It passed the order while hearing the CBI's plea seeking further extension of time to complete the probe.

The court said if the probe is completed before the next date of hearing, that is February 10, the CBI's application seeking more time would become infructuous and no assistance of any officer would be required by the court.

Additional Solicitor General Vikramjit Banerjee, appearing for CBI, submitted a status report in a sealed cover and sought extension of time to complete the probe.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Asthana, said the court may grant time to the CBI but only on the condition that if the agency fails to complete the probe in that specified period, its director shall be present in the court to explain.

The court noted that initially on January 11 last year the agency was granted 10 weeks to complete the investigation and thereafter, the CBI approached the court with several applications seeking to extend the time which was allowed.

It said the ASG is unable to tell how much further time will it will take to complete the investigation and he required to take instructions.

'Despite the time frame being specified, investigation has not been completed by the CBI. Moreover, it was clarified by the court in the last hearing that no further time will be provided to the agency. However, the investigation is still not completed by the agency,' the court said.

'It does not matter if you burn the midnight oil. Whoever is supposed to complete it, must complete it in a time bound manner,' it said.

The CBI had in December 2019 told the high court that it needed more time to complete the probe in the case as four more stages of scrutiny are left before the report can be filed.

The agency had told the court that there are eight stages of scrutiny of which four are complete and four remain.

On October 9 last year, while granting two months to the CBI to complete the probe, the court had said investigation cannot be delayed indefinitely and it should have been completed by now.

On May 31, 2019, it had granted four more months to conclude the probe after the agency approached the court on completion of 10 weeks' time.

Asthana, CBI's then Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Devender Kumar and businessman Manoj Prasad were booked on allegations of criminal conspiracy, corruption and criminal misconduct under relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Kumar, earlier the investigating officer in a case involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi, was arrested on allegations of forgery in recording the statement of Hyderabad-based businessman Sathish Babu Sana, who had allegedly paid a bribe to get relief in the case.

Kumar was arrested on October 22, 2018 and granted bail on October 31, 2018.

The high court had in January 2019 disposed off three petitions of Asthana, Kumar and Prasad by a common order in which the CBI was directed to complete the investigation in the case within 10 weeks. PTI SKV HMP SKV RDM RDM