New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Friday refused to quash the FIR lodged against CBI special director Rakesh Asthana on bribery allegations and vacated its interim order granting him protection against criminal proceedings.

Justice Najmi Waziri also refused to quash the FIR lodged against CBI deputy superintendent Devender Kumar and alleged middleman Manoj Prasad.

The judge said that permission for prior sanction to prosecute Asthana and Kumar was not required considering the facts of the case.

The high court directed the CBI to complete investigation in the case against Asthana and others within 10 weeks.

It further said that the allegation of "mala fide" raised against then CBI director Alok Verma has not been made out.

Verma and Asthana were at loggerheads for several months and had levelled charges of corruption against each other.

The high court dismissed the petitions filed by Asthana, Kumar and Prasad challenging the FIR lodged against them. Asthana was booked on charges of criminal conspiracy, corruption and criminal misconduct under sections of Prevention of Corruption Act.

Hyderabad-based businessman Sathish Babu Sana, on whose complaint the FIR was lodged, had alleged having paid a bribe to get relief in a case.

Sana had also made allegations of corruption, extortion, high-handedness and serious malpractice against Asthana.

Justice Waziri had reserved the judgment on December 20, 2018, on various petitions after hearing submissions of the counsel for CBI, the Centre, Asthana, Kumar, Verma and Joint Director AK Sharma.

Kumar, arrested on October 22, was granted bail on October 31.

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 Sana who had alleged having paid a bribe to get relief in the case.

Prasad was arrested on October 17, 2018 and he was granted bail on December 18 as the CBI could not file the charge sheet against in the case in the mandatory 60 days.

Verma had in an affidavit said that there were sufficient incriminating documents and evidence against all the accused -- Asthana, Kumar and Prasad -- with the CBI, and the FIR had been lodged after the Preliminary Enquiry disclosed cognisable offences.

He had claimed that Asthana's plea is misconceived, premature and not maintainable as investigation in the matter is at a nascent stage.

The top court had on January 8 reinstated Verma but directed him not to take any major policy decision. 

Verma had challenged before the apex court the Centre's decision to divest him of all powers and sending him on leave following his feud with Asthana.

The apex court had held that the proper procedure was not followed by the Centre in divesting Verma of his power and sending him on leave along with Asthana as both of them had traded charges of corruption against each other.

The top court had asked the high-powered committee which selects the CBI Director to examine the charges against Verma on the basis of the CVC report within a week.

Verma, who was to retire on January 31, was on Thursday removed from the post of CBI Director in a split decision of 2:1 by a high-powered committee comprising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge and Justice A K Sikri.

Justice Sikri was the nominee of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.

The high-powered committee comprises Prime Minister, leader of the single largest Opposition Party and the Chief Justice of India.

Since the CJI was part of the apex court bench which had delivered the January 8 judgment, he had opted himself out of the committee by nominating Justice Sikri, who is the senior most judge after him in the apex court.

The high-powered committee had met on January 9 and 10.

Verma, who was transferred as the Director General of Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guards on Thursday, resigned on Friday.