The Patiala House Court in Delhi on Tuesday sent Central Bureau of Investigation’s Deputy Superintendent of Police Devender Kumar to the agency’s custody for seven days, ANI reported. Kumar was arrested on Monday in connection with a bribery case also involving the CBI’s Special Director Rakesh Asthana, the agency’s second-in-command.
The CBI said as per due procedure, Kumar has been suspended, ANI reported. The agency had sought his custody for 10 days and told Judge Santosh Snehi Mann that incriminating documents and evidence had been found after searches at his office and home. The CBI accused Kumar of being part of an extortion racket run in the garb of conducting investigations. Kumar told the court that the case was an effort to derail a separate case against meat exporter Moin Qureshi.
Mann said considering the gravity of the offence, police custody of Kumar was necessary for proper investigation. The court also turned down a petition filed by the accused’s counsel that the agency had not taken proper permission under the Prevention of Corruption Act from the competent authority before arrest.
Asthana had moved the Delhi High Court earlier in the day against the CBI’s First Information Report against him in the case involving businessman Moin Qureshi. Qureshi is named in multiple money laundering and corruption cases. The High Court said no coercive action can be taken against Asthana till October 29, when it will resume hearing the officer’s plea.
Kumar had also moved the High Court challenging his arrest. Kumar has been accused of forging the statement of businessman Sathish Sana, a key witness. Sana had allegedly paid bribes to get relief in the case. Asthana is accused of accepting a Rs 2-crore bribe from him.
In August, Asthana alleged that Sana had bribed CBI Director Alok Verma. The CBI claimed that Kumar fabricated Sana’s statement “as an afterthought...to corroborate the baseless allegations” Asthana levelled against Verma in a letter to the Central Vigilance Commissioner.
The complaint also named Samant Kumar Goel, the special director of external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing, but not as an accused. The agency has reportedly submitted telephone intercepts, WhatsApp messages, a money trail and a statement of a suspected middleman.
Asthana’s appointment to the CBI in October 2017 was criticised by several people. A non-governmental organisation called Common Cause filed a petition in the Supreme Court, saying the appointment was illegal and claimed that it violated the principles of “impeccable integrity” and “institutional integrity”.