Alok Verma on Forced Leave But Still the Boss, Says CBI as Govt Builds Case Ahead of SC Hearing
Alok Verma continues to remain the Director of the CBI, Rakesh Asthana remains as Special Director and M Nageshwar Rao is looking after duties, a spokesperson of Central Bureau of Investigation said.
Alok Verma is seen at the Supreme Court in this file image. (PTI Photo)
New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation on Thursday said Alok Verma still remains the director and his number 2 Rakesh Asthana will continue as the special director of the agency despite being divested of their powers.
The clarification came just a day before the Supreme Court hears the petition filed by Verma challenging the government decision to bar him from entering his office and to send him on a forced leave.
According to sources, this would also be the line of government argument in the apex court on Friday as Verma in his petition has argued that the Centre can’t remove him before his two-year term gets over, as mandated by the top court itself. His petition is listed for hearing before a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph.
A CBI spokesperson said joint director M Nageshwar Rao was given the charge to look after the duties and functions of the director only as an interim arrangement, keeping in line with the Central Vigilance Commission order recommending the divesting of powers of Verma and Asthana.
“Alok Verma continues to remain the Director of the CBI, Rakesh Asthana remains as Special Director and M Nageshwar Rao is looking after duties and functions of the Director in the interim period till the time CVC looks into allegations and counter allegations," the spokesperson told reporters.
The official also described as "false" news report that appeared in a section of media suggesting that seven files were removed from the table of Verma when he was ousted on Tuesday after midnight. According to reports, one of the files related to a preliminary enquiry ordered into the Rafale deal.
“It is false news. This is being manufactured by vested interests. Every file in CBI at each level is accounted for. These news stories appearing in the media will have an adverse impact on the credibility of the agency. The CBI is fighting cases internationally. Credibility shouldn't suffer," the spokesperson said.
In an unprecedented shake-up in the CBI's 55-year-history, both Verma and his deputy, Special Director Rakesh Asthana, were divested of their powers and sent on leave in a dramatic overnight action by the government Tuesday night.
Verma knocked on the doors of the Supreme Court Wednesday, challenging the government's decision. The apex court agreed to hear his plea on Friday. In his petition, Verma had alleged that the autonomy of India’s top investigating agency has been compromised.
He cited that there are occasions when certain investigations into high functionaries do not take the direction that may be desirable to the government.
His petition will come for hearing along with another plea filed on Thursday by an NGO, 'Common Cause', which has sought SIT probe into the allegations of corruption against CBI officials, including special director Rakesh Asthana.
Verma, seeking an urgent hearing on his plea, had said that besides sending the agency's chief and the Special CBI Director on leave, several officers probing sensitive cases have been changed.
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