"You can't take your sweet will to complete the investigation", Delhi HC berates CBI for delay in Rakesh Asthana probe

"You can't take your sweet will to complete the investigation", Delhi HC berates CBI for delay in Rakesh Asthana probe

Pulling up the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for not complying with earlier orders on the time-bound investigation into former CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana and others in the Moin Qureshi bribery case, the Delhi High Court today directed for the appearance of the CBI Director before it on the next date of hearing.

"Director, CBI is required to be present in this Court on the next of hearing to assist the Court", a Single Judge Bench of Justice Vibhu Bakhru ordered.

The Court nonetheless clarified that in case the probe against Rakesh Asthana is completed by the next date of hearing, the CBI Director need not appear.

The Court was hearing the CBI's plea to further extend the time period granted to it to conclude the probe against Asthana, DSP Devendra Kumar and Manoj Prasad in connection with the Moin Qureshi bribery case.

This was the third such application filed by the Agency since January 2019, when the Court had initially given the agency 10 weeks to compete the investigation.

On May 31, this deadline was extended by another four months. A second extension of two more months was granted on October 9, with a clarification that no further extension would be granted.

The CBI then moved the High Court in December 2019 seeking more time to complete the investigation. However, due to the non-availability of the Additional Solicitor General concerned, the matter was taken up for consideration today.

ASG Vikramjit Banerjee informed the Court that out of the eight stages of investigation, four were already complete, and that the investigation was now at its fag end.

Observing that there seemed to be defiance of its orders, the Court said,

"You can't take your sweet will to complete it...There are eight stages of the investigation, doesn't mean you take eight years..If we give you time, it has to be given some meaning..."
Justice Vibhu Bakhru

The Court further observed that it would pass an appropriate order if the CBI Officer concerned was willing to given a undertaking on the amount of time within which the probe would be completed.

In reaction to ASG Banerjee's suggestion to grant another month for completion of the probe, the Court remarked,

"This Court is no longer flexible...we don't know at which end you are...we can't have the orders stifled in this manner..."

After the CBI failed to specify the time within which the investigation would be completed, the Court proceeded to direct the appearance of the Director, CBI to assist the Court in this regard.

The matter will be heard next on February 10.

Rakesh Asthana, Devendra Kumar and Prasad were represented by Senior Advocates Mukul Rohatgi, Dayan Krishnan, and N Hariharan.

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