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HC grants 4 more months to CBI to complete probe in Asthana bribery case

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Press Trust of India New Delhi
The Delhi High Court Friday granted four more months to CBI to complete investigation in a bribery case involving the agency's former special director Rakesh Asthana, saying an incomplete probe can lead to termination of proceedings.
Justice Mukta Gupta allowed the CBI plea seeking extension of time to complete investigations in the case lodged against Asthana, DSP Devender Kumar and middleman Manoj Prasad.
On January 11, the court had granted 10 weeks to the probe agency to complete the investigation. CBI had approached the high court after completion of 10 weeks time.
Referring to a judgement of the Supreme Court, the high court said it was held that a fair, just and reasonable procedure implicit in Article 21 of the Constitution creates a right for the accused to be tried speedily and the right to speedy trial encompasses all the stages including investigation.
"However, the courts cannot prescribe periods of limitation beyond what is prescribed and such time limits cannot and will not be treated by themselves by the courts as a bar to further continuance of the trial or proceeding, mandatorily obliging the courts to terminate the same and acquit or discharge the accused," the high court said.
"Similarly, an incomplete investigation can also have the effect of terminating the proceedings and it would be thus in the interest of justice to grant further time for investigation," it added.
The court said as the CBI is neither seeking review nor recall of the earlier order, but was asking for further time to conclude the investigation, thereby giving effect to the January 11 order, it deems it fit to allow the three applications filed by the agency.
"CBI is granted four months further time to conclude the investigation," it said.
Asthana was booked on the allegations of criminal conspiracy, corruption and criminal misconduct under relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Kumar, earlier the investigating officer in a case involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi, was arrested on the allegations of forgery in recording the statement of Hyderabad-based businessman Sathish Babu Sana, who had allegedly paid bribe to get relief in the case.
He was arrested on October 22, 2018 and granted bail on October 31.
The CBI had sought more time to complete its probe in the case so as to conduct the probe in a free, fair and transparent manner.
The agency had said that it was necessary to give effect to the court's January 11 order and to conclude investigation in a proper manner and thus extension of time to conclude the investigation is required.
The plea for extension of time was opposed by the counsel for Asthana, Kumar and Prasad.
The high court was earlier informed that Kumar has filed an appeal before the Supreme Court against the high court's order dismissing his and others' plea to quash the FIR against them.
The court had also questioned the CBI for not sending Letters Rogatory (LRs) to various countries till mid of April even though it had passed in January the order dismissing the pleas to quash the FIR.
LRs are a formal request from a court to a foreign court seeking some judicial assistance.
The high court in January had disposed of three petitions of Asthana, Kumar and Prasad by a common order in which the CBI was directed to complete investigation in the case within ten weeks.

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First Published: May 31 2019 | 8:05 PM IST

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