In view of the corruption charges that were flying thick and fast, the government in an unprecedented midnight move sent both the warring CBI officers — Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana — on leave and appointed M Nageswar Rao as the interim Director.
The fight between CBI Director Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana has led to unprecedented developments at India’s premier investigating agency — Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) — in the last couple of days. First, the CBI booked its own Special Director Rakesh Asthana for allegedly taking a bribe and then arrested a DSP rank officer Devender Kumar for running an alleged ‘extortion racket’ at the agency.
Challenging the CBI FIR against him, Asthana approached the High Court on Tuesday and got a stay from the arrest till October 29. Asthana has also accused Alok Verma of taking a bribe. In view of the corruption charges that were flying thick and fast, the government in an unprecedented midnight move sent both the warring CBI officers — Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana — on leave and appointed M Nageswar Rao as the interim Director.
Here are the key developments in the CBI saga
CBI reshuffles the team probing Rakesh Asthana
Soon after taking over as CBI Director, M Nageswar Rao appointed Satish Dagar as superintendent of police to probe the charges against Rakesh Asthana. Earlier on Wednesday, the agency transferred nine officials who were reportedly probing the allegations against Asthana. The CBI also transferred DSP A K Bassi, who was part of a team that was probing Asthana. Recently, Asthana had alleged that Bassi was carrying out “roving inquiries” against him on the directions of the CBI Director.
Congress questions Alok Verma’s removal
The Congress has asked the government as to why CBI Director Alok Verma was divested of his charges. “Who are they (government) protecting & what are they hiding?” Congress asked in a tweet put out on Wednesday morning. Congress media cell head Randeep Singh Surjewala said that the removal of CBI Director happened as the government was scared of the investigation into Rafale. “PM Modi seeks to achieve surreptitiously & clandestinely what he can’t do directly to sack the CBI Director,” he said.
Arun Jaitley defends the government’s move
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley rubbished the Congress’ charge that Alok Verma was removed because he wanted to examine the Rafale deal. Jaitley said that both the top officers were removed on the recommendations of the Central Vigilance Commission. He also said that allegations were levelled against both the officers. In this strange and unprecedented situation, it was wise to put both the officers out of the office to ensure a fair and an independent investigation into the charges, he said.
CBI Director Alok Verma moves Supreme Court
CBI Director Alok Verma has challenged his removal in the Supreme Court. The court will hear the matter on Friday. Verma has reportedly termed the government move of divesting him of all his responsibilities as ‘illegal’. He has also challenged the Centre’s decision to appoint Joint Director M Nageshwar Rao as the interim Director of CBI. According to reports, the plea was submitted before a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph who agreed to hear the matter on Friday.