The Delhi High Court on Friday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation to maintain the status quo in proceedings against its ousted Special Director Rakesh Asthana till the next hearing on December 14, PTI reported. The court was considering CBI Director Alok Verma’s affidavit in response to Asthana’s plea that sought the quashing of the first information reports filed against him and CBI Deputy Superintendent of Police Devender Kumar.

Verma told the court that he had “highly incriminating materials” against Asthana and insisted that a thorough investigation against him was necessary. Asthana had claimed last month that the FIR against him was a backlash to his complaints of criminal misconduct against Verma.

Citing “cogent evidence of bribery against Asthana”, Verma said that the CBI had sought Additional Solicitor General PS Narasimha’s view on the need for prior government approval to lodge a complaint against public servants facing corruption allegations. According to Narasimha, the CBI did not need the Centre’s permission to lodge an FIR, Verma added.

According to the affidavit, Narasimha had said that prior permission to file a complaint was not needed when a probe was already underway and when a cognizable offence comes to the notice of a law enforcement agency.

But advocates Amarendra Sharan and Dayan Krishnan, appearing for Asthana and Kumar respectively, told the court that the Central Vigilance Commission had sent to the CBI two communications in October and asked it not to register an FIR or take action against the two officers without approval.

On November 28, the Delhi High Court had allowed Verma and Joint Director AK Sharma to inspect the case file relating to the bribery case against Asthana.

The Narendra Modi-led government in October sent Verma and Asthana – the CBI’s two top officials – on leave following the allegations of corruption and bribery. Asthana is accused of accepting a Rs 2-crore bribe to scuttle an investigation against businessman Moin Qureshi, who is an accused in multiple corruption cases. Asthana had moved the High Court to quash the FIR registered against him in the bribery case.