1. Who is Rakesh Asthana?
Asthana, 57, is an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the 1984 batch of the Gujarat cadre, and is the Special Director at the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The Case Against Asthana
The CBI, on 15 October, registered an FIR against Asthana based on allegations of bribery by Sathish Babu Sana, whom Asthana had been probing in a case linked to meat exporter and hawala operator Moin Qureshi.
Asthana is mentioned as the prime accused in the case.
The case was registered under Section 120B (conspiracy) of the IPC and Sections 7 (illegal gratification), 13(2) (criminal misconduct), 13(1)(d) (taking bribe) of Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 and Section 7A (to influence public servant by corrupt means) of Prevention of Corruption Act (as amended in 2018).
The CBI had said that under these sections, no prior permission under Section 17 of the Prevention of Corruption Amendment Act is needed from the government to initiate a probe against an officer.
The 11-page FIR includes the statement of the complainant, Sana, which was recorded before a Magistrate under Section 164 of the CrPc.
Infighting Within the CBI
The case assumes added significance as the allegations against Asthana came hot on the heels of massive infighting within the CBI, between its Director, Alok Verma, and Special Director Asthana, his number two.
Asthana had presided over the Special Investigation Team (SIT) in the Godhra Sabarmati Express carnage. After his appointment, a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was moved in the Supreme Court seeking the quashing of his appointment alleging “violation of guidelines on the appointment”.
It should also be noted that it was the team under Asthana that had opened a Look Out Circular against Sana, who had attempted to flee the country but could not because of the preemptive action.