The CBI may soon question its Special Director Rakesh Asthana in connection with alleged bribery to give relief to a businessman who was being probed in a case involving Moin Qureshi, sources said on Tuesday. They said the directions of the Delhi High Court on the plea of Asthana to maintain status quo in the matter do not bar the agency from carrying on its investigation and questioning of the accused.
Questioning of an accused does not come in the definition of coercive action which Asthana had sought to be stopped, they said.
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed the CBI to maintain status quo on the criminal proceedings initiated against Asthana, who has challenged the FIR lodged against him on bribery allegations.
The sources quoted above said coercive action means arrest or searches which the agency will not conduct till the next order of the court.
An agency spokesperson said that there is no change in the status of Asthana as Special Director and no charge has been taken back from him.
The spokesperson also denied rumours of CBI searches on the premises of Asthana Tuesday afternoon.
The case emanates from a statement recorded by a Hyderabad-based real estate agent Sathish Sana whose role was being investigated by a team led by Asthana in a bribery case allegedly involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi.
It was alleged that Sana had paid Rs 50 lakh as bribe to Qureshi, which was shown as investment in his company, to get relief in a bribery case.
A Special Investigation Team led by Rakesh Asthana was probing the matter and was repeatedly questioning Sana in this regard as it suspected him of lying in the matter.
A lookout notice was also issued against him by the investigation which prevented him from leaving the country on September 25, 2018, Sana had said in his statement which is part of the FIR.
The team also submitted a proposal to arrest him as it felt the need for custodial interrogation on October 20, 2018 before the director which was not cleared and sent for the opinion of Directorate of Prosecution.
"The arrest is ordered only when certain parameters are fulfilled. The sanctioning authority satisfies itself whether arrest is warranted or not. The due procedure was followed," CBI spokesperson said on the question of Asthana's claims.
Asthana in his complaint to the Cabinet Secretary on August 24 had alleged that CBI Director Alok Verma had received a bribe of Rs 2 crore from Sana to help him get relief from repeated questioning.
He had also alleged that Verma had called him over phone in February to not call Sana for questioning.
In a surprising and unprecedented move on October 15, the CBI has booked Asthana and investigation officer of the case on the charges for receiving bribe from Sana through middlemen Manoj Prasad and Somesh Prasad.The CBI has arrested Devender Kumar, the DySP and investigation officer, alleging that he had fabricated the statement of Sana purportedly claiming that a Rajya Sabha MP had met Verma on his pending case and assured him of relief and a clean chit.