The Delhi High Court today reserved its verdict in pleas by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Special Director Rakesh Asthana and Deputy Superintendent of Police Devendra Kumar seeking to quash the FIR registered against them by the Agency for allegedly accepting gratification in the Moin Qureshi case..The order was reserved by a Single Judge Bench of Justice Najmi Waziri after hearing the parties..The judge also asked the Investigating Officer Satish Dagar to verify if the content in the sealed cover provided by CBI Joint Director AK Sharma to the Court was the same as the one given to the Agency. The sealed cover contains transcripts of phone calls between the accused and other parties, which Sharma claims to be “incriminating evidence” against accused Asthana..Senior Advocate Amarendra Sharan, appearing for Asthana, has challenged the FIR on the touchstone of Section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. Relying upon the recent amendment to the Act, it was argued that in absence of sanction from the Central government under Section 17A of the Act, no enquiry or investigation could have been initiated against him by the Agency..Sharan further alleged that the FIR registered against Asthana was antedated and actuated by malice. He has also claimed that the FIR was registered without following the due procedure as prescribed in the CBI Manual..Senior Advocate Dayan Krishnan, appearing for Devender Kumar, also objected to the FIR being registered without prior sanction from the Centre. He further assailed the credibility of the whistle-blower in the case, Satish Sana Babu, saying that his allegation should not have been taken on face value. Instead of directly registering an FIR, a preliminary enquiry should have been conducted first, Krishnan submitted..The CBI, on the other hand, has stood by the FIR filed against Asthana and Kumar, and informed the Court that the investigation in the case is being carried out by an interim investigation team..Along with CBI Director Alok Verma and Joint Director AK Sharma, the CBI has argued that Section 17A applied only with respect to the commission of an act “in discharge of official functions and duties”. The action of accepting a bribe from a party would fall outside its scope and therefore no prior approval from the Central government was mandated..Senior Advocate Amit Sibal, appearing for Director Alok Verma, also defended the FIR and called the allegations of malice “a figment of (Asthana’s) imagination”..Advocate MA Niyazi, appearing for Sharma, has produced “incriminating evidence” against Asthana and urged the court to “take an organic view of the matter”..The Centre has distanced itself from the controversy, stating that it has a limited role in the matter, which is only with respect to Section 17A. Additional Solicitor General Maninder Kaur Acharya has maintained that the Centre has not received any such request for sanction from the Agency. Had the Centre received such a request, it would have applied its mind and taken an appropriate decision, Acharya had clarified before the Court..Senior Advocate Vikas Pahwa, appearing for the alleged middleman Manoj Prasad, was also present in Court today. However, the Court refused to hear him the matter.