New Delhi, Nov 17 (IANS) The Centre on Friday told the Supreme Court that it was opposing the plea by NGO Common Cause challenging the appointment of Gujarat cadre IPS officer Rakesh Asthana as Special Director, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Attornery General K.K. Venugopal told the bench of Justice R.K. Agrawal and Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre that the central government would oppose the plea against Asthana’s appointment.
Initially the court said that it would hear the matter on Monday (November 20) but later made it Friday (November 24) as counsel Prashant Bhushan appearing for the NGO said they wanted to file some additional documents in support of their plea.
On this Attorney General said they too be given a copy of the additional documents to respond to them as they were opposing the plea.
The petitioner NGO has told the court that Asthana’s appointment was opposed by investigating agency’s head Alok Verma as his name figured in a corruption case being investigated by the agency.
The CBI had filed the charge-sheet in the case in August. It concerned alleged payouts to various public servants by the Gujarat-based Sterling Biotech Group and Sandesara Group.
Common Cause in its PIL contended that the appointment of Asthana was “illegal, arbitrary, mala fide and in violation of the principle of impeccable integrity and institutional integrity as laid down by the top court”.
The petitioner NGO also said that Asthana’s name allegedly figured in “Diary 2011” which was recovered during raids by the Income Tax Department on June 28, 2011, from the premises of the Sterling Biotech and Sandesara Group of Companies.
The said diary the allegedly carried hand-written entries on financial transactions between January 1 and June 28, 2011.
The matter was investigated by the CBI and the charge-sheet filed on August 30.
Common Cause has sought direction to the Centre that Asthana be transferred out of the CBI till investigation into the matter was completed.
The court has been told that Asthana was promoted despite non-compliance of the government’s order on disclosure of asset belonging to the officer or acquired on his behalf by any member of his family.
It has also sought direction to the Centre and the CBI to produce the entire record related to the selection and appointment of Asthana as Special Director, including the agenda and the minutes of the Selection Committee meeting held on October 21.
It has also demanded production of a two-page note and material placed before the Committee by Verma, objecting to the proposal to promote Asthana.
The petitioner had in December 2016 moved the top court for quashing of the appointment of Asthana as interim Director of CBI after earlier Director Anil Sinha demitted office on his superannuation.
For making Asthana an interim Director, just two days before Sinha was to retire on December 2, 2016, then Special Director R.K. Dutta was transferred to the Home Ministry by creating a post of Special Secretary by upgrading by two layers the post of Joint Secretary.
The top court had issued notice to the Centre on Common Cause’s plea on December 9, 2016.
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