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Maintain status quo: HC to CBI

Maintain status quo: HC to CBI
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NEW DELHI: The fight between the Central Bureau of Investigation's top bosses reached the Delhi High Court on Tuesday with special director Rakesh Asthana challenging the bribery charges against him and seeking protection from arrest.

The High Court in turn directed the CBI to maintain status quo on the criminal proceedings initiated against its special director Rakesh Asthana.

Justice Najmi Waziri also sought response of the probe agency and its Director Alok Kumar Verma as also Joint Director A K Sharma on the separate pleas of Asthana and Deputy Superintendent Devender Kumar, arrested in the bribery case.

The notice has also been issued to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), which is the administrative arm for the CBI.

The order asking the agency to maintain the status quo has been issued on the plea of Asthana only.

The high court asked both Asthana and Kumar to preserve the records of the case and also their mobile records. It posted the matter for hearing on October 29.

Asthana's counsel and senior advocate Amrendra Sharan said it is the case of illegal registration of FIR against the Special CBI Director which is based on the statement of accused.

Senior advocate Dayan Krishnan appeared for Kumar for quashing of the FIR against him.

A Delhi court on Tuesday allowed the CBI to quiz in custody for seven days its Deputy Superintendent of Police Devender Kumar, who was arrested on Monday.

The order was passed after the Delhi High Court had heard his petition seeking quashing of the FIR lodged against him and his senior.

The probe agency has claimed that Kumar was part of an extortion racket being run in the garb of an investigation.

Kumar's lawyer has argued that the agency's FIR is an effort to derail the case against meat exporter Moin Qureshi.

According to a senior legal expert the FIR filed against Asthana on October 15 is under the Prevention of Corruption Act 13(1)D, which no longer exists. Under the current version of the law, the investigating authorities have to prove that the accused official has benefitted financially, else he cannot be found guilty of corruption.

There are reports that Prime Minister Modi has been keeping a close watch on the developments in the premier investigating agency.

Sources also claimed that the PM spoke to the RAW chief Anil Dasmana, since officials of the country's external intelligence agency have also come under the investigation radar.

The FIR against Asthana is based on claims of Sathish Sana, a Hyderabad-based businessman linked to the Moin Qureshi case.

Asthana wrote to the government last week, listing a series of charges against CBI chief Alok Verma. Asthana alleged that it was the CBI chief who took the bribe but framed him because he prevented Satish Sana from escaping the country.

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