Interim CBI chief's orders including mass transfers on hold

Hannah Rogers
October 28, 2018

The government would face a major embarrassment even if the Supreme Court does not reinstate Alok Verma but dilutes the government's order. On his return to Gujarat, he held key posts under Narendra Modi's government before being brought back to the CBI. "Chowkidar chor hai (Watchman is a thief)", he said in a brief address to a crowd of Congress workers outside the CBI headquarters in Lodhi Road area in south Delhi.

He also referred to the CVC and Centre's orders divesting Verma of his duties. For transfer of the CBI Director, section 4B (2) of the Act of 1946 envisages previous consent of the Committee.

The fact that the bench also felt the need to restrict what Nageshwar Rao (who has taken over the functions of the CBI Director in the interim) could do, could also be viewed as a rap on the knuckles of the Centre, who appointed him.

In a first for the 55-year old investigative agency, its Director Verma and Special Director Asthana were stripped of their powers and sent on leave, following allegations of corruption.

The court while giving the directions also sought the response of the Centre and the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to Verma's petition challenging the Centre's order to divest him of his duties and send him on leave.

The apex court said former Supreme Court judge A K Patnaik will oversee a CVC inquiry into the allegations against Verma and the report has to be placed before it within two weeks.

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Nearly a year before that, another bench of the Supreme Court had come down heavily on the CBI while hearing a coal scam case and had said the probe agency had become a "caged parrot" speaking in the voice of its political masters.

Earlier, Congress Spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said that Gandhi and other leaders were arrested from the CBI headquarters.

Reiterating his allegations against the prime minister on the Rafale fighter jet deal, Gandhi again called him "chowkidar" and said he had "deposited Rs 30,000 crore in Anil Ambani's pocket".

Rao also has the charge of additional director, along with A K Sharma and Praveen Sinha, both from the Gujarat cadre. Both Asthana and Verma had been summoned by the PM on Sunday and Monday, respectively, to find a resolution.

- Hearing commences in Supreme Court, Fali S Nariman arguing for Alok Verma.

Taking to the streets, the Congress on Friday took out nationwide protest marches to CBI offices accusing the government of trying to "cage the CBI", as the party president Rahul Gandhi, along with several others, courted arrest and alleged "every institution was being ruined" in the country.

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