CBI Officer Asthana’s Promotion is Illegal, Says Prashant Bhushan

Senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan seeks to challenge Rakesh Asthana’s appointment as Special Director of CBI in the SC.

2 min read

On 22 October, the Appointment Committee of the Cabinet promoted an Indian Police Service Officer of the Gujarat cadre, Rakesh Asthana, to the position of Special Director CBI – second-in-command of the CBI – despite the Central Vigilance Commissioner’s (CVC) dissent. According to senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan, the CVC Selection Committee rejected his promotion on Saturday (21 October) for issues related to the ‘integrity clause’.

The Selection Committee, chaired by CVC KV Chowdhary, rejected Asthana’s promotion saying that his name allegedly surfaced in the ‘Diary 2011’ for accepting bribes from Gujarat-based Sterling Biotech and Sandesara Group of Companies.

In August this year, the CBI itself registered a case in the same corruption matter against three senior Income Tax Commissioners and an unknown police officer.

Bribery Allegations Against Asthana

The CBI FIR on Sterling Biotech and Sandesara Group of Companies says that ‘Diary 2011’, which was recovered during raids from the companies, had details of the payouts to Income Tax Commissioners and several police officials and politicians in Gujarat and Delhi.

The diary shows that Mr Asthana received crores of rupees as bribes in cash from Sterling biotech. At that time, Asthana was Commissioner of Police in Surat.
Prashant Bhushan, Senior Lawyer 

As per the Supreme Court ruling, the promotion of a CBI officer at such a senior level cannot happen without the clearance of the CVC panel, including the approval of the CBI Director. In this case, the CBI Director, Alok Verma, has apparently given a dissenting note on Asthana’s promotion.

The CBI director has given a two-page written note saying that Asthana’s name figures in the diary and therefore he cannot be promoted. 
Prashant Bhushan, Senior Lawyer
CBI Officer Asthana’s Promotion is Illegal, Says Prashant Bhushan

Bhushan will demand a copy of the Minutes of the Meeting convened by the CVC on Saturday through an RTI.

In my view, it is totally illegal and we will certainly challenge it. It just goes to show that the current government is hell-bent on destroying the independence and integrity of the CBI. 
Prashant Bhushan, Senior Lawyer

Who Is Rakesh Asthana?

On 2 December 2016, Rakesh Asthana joined the CBI as Additional Director. He is an IPS officer of Gujarat cadre 1984 batch.

Earlier, Asthana had investigated several sensitive cases including the Godhra train burning case, the Fodder scam of Bihar and the Purulia Arms Drop case. He has also investigated several Disproportionate Assets cases against corrupt public servants.

Currently, Asthana is investigating other sensitive cases like the AgustaWestland chopper scam, and the Vijay Mallya bank fraud case.

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