November 17, 2017   
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New Delhi, Nov 9  The Supreme Court will hear on Monday a plea challenging the appointment of Rakesh Asthana as Special Director in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

A bench headed by Justice J. Chelameswar on Thursday directed the listing of the matter for November 13 after NGO Common Cause mentioned it.

The petitioner told the court that his appointment was opposed by the investigating agency’s head Alok Verma as Asthana’s name figured in a corruption case being investigated by the agency.

The CBI had filed the charge-sheet in the case in August. It concerned alleged payouts to various public servants by the Gujarat-based Sterling Biotech Group and Sandesara Group.

Common Cause in its PIL contended that the appointment of Asthana was “illegal, arbitrary, malafide and in violation of the principle of impeccable integrity and institutional integrity as laid down by the top court”.

The petitioner also said that Asthana’s name allegedly figured in ‘Diary 2011’ which was recovered during raids by the Income Tax Department on June 28, 2011, from the premises of the Sterling Biotech and Sandesara Group of Companies.

The said diary allegedly carried hand-written entries on financial transaction between January 1 and June 28, 2011.

The matter was investigated by the CBI and the charge-sheet was filed on August 30.

The court was told that Asthana was promoted despite non-compliance of the government’s order on asset disclosure belonging to the officer or acquired on his behalf by any member of his family.

Common Cause has sought direction to the Centre that Asthana be transferred out of the CBI till investigation into the matter were completed.

It has also sought direction to the Centre and the CBI to produce the entire record related to the selection and appointment of Asthana as Special Director, including the agenda and the minutes of the Selection Committee meeting held on October 21.

It has also demanded the production of a two-page note and material placed before the Committee by Verma, objecting to the proposal to promote Asthana.

The petitioner had in December 2016 moved the top court for quashing of the appointment of Asthana as interim Director of CBI after earlier Director Anil Sinha demitted office on his superannuation.

For making Asthana an interim Director, just two days before Sinha was to retire on December 2, 2016, then Special Director R.K. Dutta was transferred to the Home Ministry by creating a post of Special Secretary by upgrading by two layers the post of Joint Secretary.

The top court had issued notice to the Centre on Common Cause’s plea on December 9, 2016.