The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a plea challenging appointment of Indian Police Service officer Rakesh Asthana as the special director of the Central Bureau of Investigation. A bench of Justices RK Agrawal and AM Sapre said a mere mention of Asthana’s name in an unsolicited and unverified diary cannot stop his promotion.
The bench said it did not find any violation of rules in Asthana’s appointment, as alleged by the petitioners.
Asthana’s name had surfaced in a diary obtained by the CBI from the premises of Gujarat-based Sterling Biotech in August. This suggested that Asthana had accepted bribes from the company, the petitioners alleged.
On November 2, NGO Common Cause had filed the petition calling Asthana’s appointment “illegal”. The petition had alleged that Asthana’s appointment violated the principles of “impeccable integrity” and “institutional integrity”. It said that as per the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, the Centre must appoint the CBI special director on the recommendation of a committee comprising the Central Vigilance Commissioner, vigilance commissioners, the home secretary and the personnel secretary, in consultation with the CBI director.
The plea contended that despite Asthana being named in the Sterling Biotech diary, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, comprising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh, had approved his appointment as special director.