NGO Common Cause's Review Plea Seeks Revision of Asthana's CBI Appointment

The NGO said the review plea has been filed on grounds of discovery of new evidence and error apparent on the face of the record.

File photo of Rakesh Asthana from his days as commissioner of police, Surat, Gujarat. Credit: Rakesh Asthana’s public Facebook page

New Delhi: A plea was filed yesterday in the Supreme Court seeking review of its judgement rejecting a plea challenging the appointment of senior Gujarat cadre IPS officer Rakesh Asthana to the post of CBI special director.

A bench comprising Justices R. K. Agrawal and A. M. Sapre, on November 28, had dismissed the plea of NGO Common Cause challenging Asthana’s appointment, saying it cannot question a “unanimous” decision taken by the selection committee and the decision is not illegal.

The NGO said the review plea has been filed on grounds of discovery of new evidence and error apparent on the face of the record.

It has referred to a letter of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) seeking a report from the CBI director on the authorship of the unsigned note given by the CBI director in the selection committee’s meeting on October 21.

“Respondent No. 2 (Asthana) needed to be investigated by the CBI in relation to two FIRs dated August 30, 2017 and October 25, 2017. The contents of the note furnished by the CBI Director to the Selection Committee headed by the CVC would have thrown further light on this matter,” the plea, filed through lawyer Prashant Bhushan, said.

“The judgment does not deal with the issue of institutional integrity enunciated in CVC case” the plea said.

Earlier, the apex court had said that once there was consultation, the content of that consultation was beyond the scope of judicial review, though the lack of effective consultation could fall within the scope of judicial review.

The selection committee, which consisted of high officials, had a discussion with the CBI director and considered relevant materials before taking the decision, it had said.

The appointment of Asthana as special director of CBI did not suffer from any illegality, the court had held.

The NGO, in its plea, had said that an FIR was lodged against a firm which Asthana is associated with.

Rejecting the submisison, the court had said that the lodging of the FIR will not come in the way of considering Rakesh Asthana for the post of special director, after taking into consideration his service record, work and experience.

The NGO in its petition had challenged Asthana’s appointment, saying it was illegal as his name had surfaced in a diary recovered during a raid conducted by the income tax department at the offices and other premises of company Sterling Biotech Ltd.

The Centre had said that Asthana, who was earlier an additional director in the CBI, was looking after its eleven zones and had supervised the investigation and trial of several scam cases, including the Agusta Westland, Ambulance Scam, Kingfisher, Hassan Ali Khan, Moin Qureshi and coal scam cases.

It had said the selection committee had given good reasons for not accepting the contents of the letter submitted by the director of CBI and recommended Asthana for appointment as CBI special director.

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