No dissent note on Asthana's appointment: Centre tells SC

No dissent note on Asthana's appointment: Centre tells SC

The Centre on Friday refuted before the Supreme Court a charge that CBI chief A K Verma last month sent a dissent note on the appointment of Gujarat-cadre IPS officer Rakesh Asthana as special director.

Attorney General K K Venugopal submitted before a bench of Justices R K Agrawal and Abhay Manohar Sapre that Asthana has been recommended to the post for being an "outstanding officer" who supervised more than 40 scams, including those relating to coal, AgustaWestland, Haaji Ali, Moin Qureshi, chit fund, Bihar's bitumen, among others.

Responding to a charge that Asthana, a 1984-batch officer, is himself under the CBI scanner after his name purportedly appeared in a diary for having received regular kickbacks and favours from Surat-based Sterling Biotech Ltd and related entities, the top law officer produced the original note, containing minutes of the CBI selection meeting held on October 21 in the office of the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC).

The note stated, "There is no finding in these papers that the person mentioned therein is the same person under consideration for appointment and there is nothing about the veracity of the contents of the document."

Venugopal also submitted the CVC, the supervisory body over the CBI, does not take consideration of the materials brought on record on the eve of appointment.

After hearing arguments from advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO Common Cause, and Venugopal, the bench reserved its judgement for November 28.

Advocate Bhushan submitted that it was a question of "institutional integrity". "Will the CBI be able to conduct a fair investigation in the Rs 5,000 crore money laundering case faced by the firm, if this gentleman (Asthana) continued on the post," he asked.

Bhushan also alleged that Asthana's son worked for the firm, which also organised a cocktail party for the officer's daughter before her marriage at its farmhouse. Bhushan also claimed the officer, who received regular favours from the firm during his tenure as Surat police commissioner, did not furnish his property details to the CBI.

Venugopal contended that the beneficiary of the instant PIL appeared to be Kingfisher promoter Vijay Mallya, who got a professor to give an affidavit in London that he (industrialist) would not get justice if extradited to India. "I don't know if he is behind it (the PIL)," he said.

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