In an unprecedented move the Government sent CBI chief Alok Verma on leave and M Nageshwara Rao took over as the interim chief, early Wednesday morning. A few hours later, a major rejig took place within the CBI and atleast eleven officials were transferred.
Alok Verma, his deputy Rakesh Asthana were sent on leave. The CBI spokesperson denied earlier reports that the offices of both Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana have been sealed.
In addition eleven officials who were a part of the team probing the case against CBI’s Rakesh Asthana have been transferred – CBI DIG Manish Kumar Sinha, DIG Taurn Gauba, DIG Jasbir Singh, DIG Anish Prasad, DIG KR Chaurasia, HoB Ram Gopal, SP Satish Dagar, CBI’s JD (P) Arun Kumar Sharma, A Sai Manohar, HoZ V Murugesan and DIG Amit Kumar.
The move comes amid spate of allegations and counter-allegations between Verma and his number 2 Rakesh Asthana who was booked by CBI in a case of alleged corruption.
Nageshwar Rao, a 1986 batch officer, supersedes Rakesh Asthana and was joint director of the CBI.
A team comprising CBI DIG Tarun Gauba, SP Satish Dagar and Joint Director V Murugesan will probe charges against CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana.
The Congress reacted strongly to the dismissal and asked ‘has the CBI Director been sacked for his keenness to probe the Rafale scam?”
PM Modi has demonstrated the true colour of his infamous ‘Modi Made Gujarat Model’ by this cloak-and-dagger mugging of CBI.
Has the CBI Director been sacked for his keenness to probe the layers of corruption in Rafale Scam? Isn’t the rest a shoddy cover up?
Let PM answer! pic.twitter.com/80ckyFiOJX
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) October 24, 2018
Rao will ‘look after duties and functions of director CBI and shall take over the duties and functions with immediate effect,’ said the order by an appointments committee led by the Prime Minister.
The developments followed a recommendation by the country’s top vigilance officer, Chief Vigilance Commissioner KV Chowdary that the CBI’s warring top two be sent on ‘compulsory wait,’ stripped of all responsibilities.
Sources say Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had summoned both Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana to discuss the crisis, agreed with the recommendation, said NDTV.
The move caps days of turmoil that began with chief Alok Verma filing a case against his deputy, accusing him of taking Rs 3 crore as bribe from a businessman being investigated. Rakesh Asthana, denying the charges, told the government that it was his boss who had taken a bribe of Rs 2 crore from the same businessman.
The decision comes a day after CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana moved the Delhi High Court seeking the quashing of First Information Report (FIR) filed against him by the premier investigating agency of India. The court later ordered that no action would be taken against Asthana until next hearing, which is scheduled for October 29.
The CBI had filed an FIR against Asthana for allegedly accepting a bribe from a businessman, who was related to Moin Akhtar Qureshi case. Asthana was heading the Special Investigation Team (SIT) that was probing Qureshi’s case.
Meanwhile, Asthana had also said that the CBI director Alok Verma was trying to thwart investigations in important cases.
However, the CBI later issued a statement in which it defended Verma.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday said Alok Verma’s challenge to the government order removing him as director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will be heard on Friday.
The matter was mentioned by his lawyer Gopal Sankaranarayanan before a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.
On Wednesday, Verma and special director Rakesh Asthana were sent on leave with immediate effect.
(with ANI inputs)