SC to hear PIL seeking SIT probe into graft allegations against CBI officials

PTI New Delhi, Delhi, India Oct 25, 2018, 12.40 PM(IST)

File photo: The Supreme Court of India. Photograph:( Reuters )

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Supreme Court had agreed to hear on October 26 a separate plea filed by the CBI chief challenging the Centre's decision to divest him of powers and send him on leave. 

The Supreme Court on Thursday said that it would consider according to an urgent hearing to a PIL seeking court-monitored SIT probe into allegations of corruption against various CBI officials, including Rakesh Asthana, who was divested of his responsibilities as the agency's special director.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi considered the submission of lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO Common Cause that there were wider issues of corruption affecting the probe agency and the PIL needed to be heard urgently.

The bench, which also comprised Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, asked Mr Bhushan to provide details and said it would consider granting an urgent hearing on the petition.

The NGO has sought relief including court-monitored Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe into allegations of corruption against CBI officials including Mr Asthana, who along with CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma had been divested of powers and sent on leave.

The unprecedented internal feud between CBI Director and Mr Asthana had reached the top court on Wednesday which agreed to hear on October 26 the former's plea assailing the Centre's decision to divest him of duties and sending him on leave.

Mr Verma has assailed the decision of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) by which Joint Director M Nageswara Rao, a 1986 batch Odisha-cadre IPS officer, has been given the charge as head of the probe agency.

The feud between Mr Verma and Mr Asthana escalated recently leading to registration of an FIR against Mr Asthana and others including Deputy Superintendent of Police Devender Kumar, who is presently in CBI's custody, in an alleged bribery case.

The FIR was lodged on a written complaint of Satish Babu Sana on October 15. It alleged that Mr Kumar, the IO in a case, was repeatedly calling him to the CBI office to harass and compel him to pay a bribe of Rs. 5 crores for giving him a clean chit.

Mr Asthana and Mr Kumar both challenged the FIR in the Delhi High Court, which on Tuesday ordered CBI to maintain status quo on the criminal proceedings against Mr Asthana.

The Centre, the CVC and the DoPT intervened and decided to send the CBI Director and the Special Director on leave.