The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a petition challenging the appointment of former Central Bureau of Investigation special director Rakesh Asthana as director general of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, ANI reported.
The petitioner, advocate ML Sharma, had challenged the appointment, citing a pending first information report against Asthana on bribery allegations. The Delhi High Court had on January 11 refused to quash the FIR against Asthana.
“Instead of suspension, Asthana’s appointment as BCAS [Bureau of Civil Aviation Security] chief on January 18 is a clear case of personal interest of PM [Narendra] Modi in favour of Asthana and against [former CBI Director Alok] Verma,” Sharma’s petition said. “Therefore, PM Modi has no legal and moral right to sit as member of the committee in which Asthana vs Verma case has been decided.”
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna noted that the petitioner had raised multiple concerns in the plea, besides seeking Asthana’s suspension, according to Bar and Bench.
The bench dismissed the petition, saying multiple causes of action were combined, “one having no connection with another”. “One of the reliefs sought might be in the realm of jurisdiction of service tribunal,” the bench said.
Gogoi, while hearing the plea, said some level of discipline has to be maintained in petitions. “You cannot bring everything under the sun in an Article 32 petition,” the chief justice said. Article 32 guarantees the right to Constitutional remedies and provides individuals the right to move the Supreme Court or High Courts.
In December 2018, the Supreme Court had imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on ML Sharma for filing “frivolous” petitions.
The Centre had appointed Asthana the director general of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security on January 18 for two years, a day after removing him and three other officers from the Central Bureau of Investigation. The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, a branch of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, is the regulatory authority for the sector in India.
The Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government in October had sent Asthana and CBI Director Alok Verma on leave after they accused each other of corruption. After being reinstated by a Supreme Court order on January 8, Verma was removed from the post again two days later.
Asthana was accused of receiving kickbacks and extorting money from Hyderabad-based businessman Sathish Babu Sana, who was being investigated in the Moin Qureshi corruption case. Qureshi is accused in multiple graft cases. Asthana, in turn, accused Verma of trying to falsely implicate him, and levelled corruption charges against him.