A Delhi court on Tuesday allowed the Central Bureau of Investigation to quiz in custody for seven days its Deputy Superintendent of Police Devender Kumar, who has been arrested in connection with bribery allegations involving the agency’s Special Director Rakesh Asthana.
The court termed the offence as “grave” and noted that there were serious allegations about the involvement of public servants including the accused, who has been charged by the agency of being a part of an extortion racket being run in the garb of investigation.
Special CBI Judge Santosh Snehi Mann remanded Kumar to the custody of CBI, which had sought 10 days of custodial interrogation alleging that it has recovered incriminating documents after raiding his office and residence.
Allegations against the accused include conspiracy of extortion and bribe to give clean chit to the complaint in a case pending investigation, he said.
“Considering the gravity of the offence and seriousness of allegations about the involvement of public servants including accused, I am of the opinion the police custody of accused Devender Kumar is necessary for proper investigation.
“Accused is remanded to police custody for seven days,” the judge said in the order.
The order was passed after the Delhi high court had heard his petition seeking quashing of the FIR lodged against him and his senior, Rakesh Asthana, the Special CBI Director.
While the high court ordered status quo on the criminal proceedings against Asthana, there was no such relief for Kumar.
During the hearing before the trial court, the CBI said that Kumar’s custodial interrogation was necessary to unearth the criminal conspiracy hatched by the accused persons in commission of the offence and their specific roles.
It said that during the searches conducted by the CBI at the office chamber and residential premises of the accused, a number of documents have been seized.
The agency alleged that the accused tried to create false evidence during investigation of the other case and has refused to cooperate in the investigation.
Advocate Rahul Tyagi, appearing for Kumar, said that the arrest of the accused and investigation against him in this case was in violation of the law as there was no prior approval under section 17A of the PC Act from the competent authority.
However, the court rejected the contention, saying that “the alleged conduct does not relate to any recommendation or decision taken by the accused in discharge of his official duties, being investigating officer of that case, because the case is still pending investigation. Therefore, prior approval under section 17A of PC Act is not attracted in the case.”
The newly-inserted section 17A of the PC Act makes it mandatory to have an approval from the government for carrying out any investigation into any offence alleged to have been committed by a public servant.
According to the section, no police officer shall conduct an inquiry against a public servant, alleged to have indulged in corruption, without the sanction from the Centre or the state government, depending on where the public servant concerned is employed.
Tyagi said that the accused was falsely implicated in the case and was a victim of the rivalry between the senior officers of the CBI.
He alleged that Kumar was investigating a CBI case in which the complainant -- Satish Babu Sana -- was a suspect and names of some past and present senior officers of the CBI had also surfaced.
The counsel added that arrest of the accused in the present case was motivated to stall the investigation of that case and that there was no direct allegation against the accused.
During the proceedings, the agency also informed the court that it has added some fresh sections -- 384 (punishment for extortion), 388 (extortion by threat of accusation of an offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life), 389 (putting person in fear of accusation of offence, in order to commit extortion), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating) and 471 (using as genuine a forged document or electronic record) -- of the IPC in its FIR.
The defence counsel also moved a bail application in the case but later did not press for it.
If convicted, the accused may get a maximum 10-year jail term.
Kumar was arrested on Monday.
The FIR in the current case was lodged on a written complaint of Sana on October 15, wherein it was alleged that the current accused, being the IO in the other case, was repeatedly calling him to the CBI office in order to harass him and compel him to pay bribe of Rs five crore for giving him clean chit in that CBI case.
The complaint also said that a part of the bribe was paid by Sana.