The Supreme Court will on Friday take up ex-CBI chief Alok Verma’s case against the government for stripping him of his powers and sending him on a forced leave.
Verma took the government to court after he was replaced by an interim chief in a post-midnight order on Tuesday. He said in his petition that the autonomy of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), is being compromised as certain investigations against high functionaries “do not take the direction desirable to the government”.
Another case will be heard by three judges led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, separately, with respect to a request for a special investigation into corruption charges against officials, including Rakesh Asthana, the CBI number two officer, who was also sent on leave.
- CBI chief Alok Verma was stripped of his powers days after he launched an investigation against his deputy Rakesh Asthana, accused of taking a bribe in an investigation against a businessman.
- Rakesh Asthana fired back at his boss with the same charge, alleging Verma to have taken a bribe from the same businessman.
- Asthana took the CBI to court on Tuesday and asked the CBI’s case against him to be dropped. He was divested of all his powers and sent on leave. Only, hours later, the government took similar actions against the CBI chief, on a recommendation from the Central Vigilance Commission — the anti-corruption body that oversees the CBI. “Neither of the two officers, nor any agency under their supervision can investigate charges against them,” the vigilance body said, explaining why the CBI chief must also go.
- M Nageswar Rao, CBI interim chief, took charge around 2 am and signed off on orders the same night to transfer several officers on Verma’s team, including those who were investigating Asthana.
- Verma will be represented by senior jurist, Fali Nariman, 89, at the Supreme Court, while attorney general KK Venugopal will represent the centre. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta will appear for the Central Vigilance Commission, and former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi will appear for Rakesh Asthana.
- Verma in his petition said that the Supreme Court had ruled in the past that the CBI director should have a fixed minimum tenure of two years. His petition also accuses Asthana of “concocting evidence” against him to accuse him of corruption.
- On Thursday the CBI clarified that both Verma and Asthana retain their posts, but Rao will remain interim chief till the main anti-corruption body, Central Vigilance Commission, examines the allegations by the two officers.
- Four Intelligence Bureau officials were caught near the exiled CBI chief’s home and were dragged by his security officers accused of snooping on Verma.