In a post-midnight drama, the Centre on Wednesday virtually sacked CBI Director Alok Verma in the midst of the war at the agency’s top, a decision that came under all-round fire from the opposition who termed it “the last nail in the independence” of the organisation. Verma moved the Supreme Court, which will hear his plea on Friday.
Verma who has two more months as the Central Bureau of Investigation chief and cannot be removed formally. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), which took the decision on Verma, also asked Joint Director M. Nageshwar Rao to “look after the duties and functions of the CBI Director”.
An official order said the arrangement would continue “during the period of the subsistence of the aforesaid interim measure”, as the rift between Verma and CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana escalated over bribery allegations.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it will hear Verma’s plea challenging the Centre’s order asking him to proceed on leave on October 26.
“The Modi government buries the last nail into the independence of CBI. Systematic dismantling and denigrating of CBI is now complete. Once a premier investigating agency, PM ensures that CBI’s integrity, credibility and reliability is buried and dead.
“PM Modi seeks to achieve surreptitiously and clandestinely what he can’t do directly to sack the CBI Director. Habitual and perpetual misuse of CBI by Modi government and BJP to tamper fair investigation of serious criminal cases is the reason for this unfathomable mess,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said in a series of tweets.
The Prime Minister has demonstrated “the true colour of his infamous Modi Made Gujarat Model by this cloak-and-dagger mugging of the CBI, the Congress said. Surjewala asked whether the CBI director was “sacked” for his keenness to probe the layers of “corruption in Rafale Scam”.
“Isn’t the rest a shoddy cover up? Let PM answer!” he tweeted.
Aam Aadmi Party supremo and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said: “What are the reasons for sending CBI director on leave? Under which law did the Modi government get the authority to initiate action against the chief of an investigating agency appointed as per the Lokpal Act? What is the Modi government trying to hide?”
“The illegal removal of CBI chief by the Modi government to protect their own handpicked officer, against whom serious charges of corruption are being investigated, points to attempts at a serious cover-up to protect his direct links to the BJP’s top political leadership,” Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury said.