Rakesh Asthana was on Tuesday appointed the commissioner of police in Delhi, NDTV reported, citing a home ministry memorandum. Asthana is a 1984-batch Indian Police Services officer of the Gujarat cadre.

He is currently the director general of the Border Security Force and was set to retire on July 31. His service has now been extended for a year. He will replace Balaji Srivastava, who had taken over as the Delhi Police chief as an additional charge after SN Srivastava retired on June 30.

Asthana was posted as the director general of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security in 2019 after his controversial stint as the special director of the Central Bureau of Investigation. Asthana’s name cropped up in a major controversy related to a bribery case in 2018.

SS Deswal, the director-general of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, will take additional charge of the Border Security Force, the home ministry said.

The bribery case

Rakesh Asthana and the CBI’s Deputy Superintendent of Police Devender Kumar, along with middleman Manoj Prasad, were under the investigation agency’s radar for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 2 crore in exchange for clearing charges against Hyderabad-based entrepreneur Sathish Babu Sana. The businessman was being investigated in the Moin Qureshi corruption case. Qureshi is accused in multiple corruption cases.

Asthana was accused of receiving kickbacks and extorting money from the businessman. Asthana, in turn, accused former CBI Director Alok Verma of trying to falsely implicate him, and levelled corruption charges against him. The Centre subsequently sent both Asthana and Verma on compulsory leave in October 2018.

However, Asthana and Kumar were cleared of all charges in February 2020.

Asthana’s name had also surfaced in a diary obtained by the CBI from the premises of Gujarat-based pharmaceutical company Sterling Biotech, which suggested that he had accepted bribes from the company. He was cleared of these charges too in February this year.

Asthana was involved in the investigation of the Sabarmati Express fire in Godhra in 2002. He also arrested Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav in connection with the fodder scam in 1997.