The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is undergoing a major revamp. Director Alok Verma and the agency's No 2, Rakesh Asthana, who've been involved in a bitter feud, have been sent on leave. M Nageshwar Rao, a joint director within the CBI, has been made interim director. Now, a number of other senior officers have been transferred by Rao.
It's really not an easy task despite the optimism shown by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley after the Supreme Court ordered a time-bound inquiry into allegations floating around the CBI's big fight. He's presumably addressing the controversy as a representative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, because the minister in charge of the CBI, Jitendra Singh, has been kept out of this. From CBI director Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana being divested of their powers, to the mass transfers, which should have been his domain, it has all been handled by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and officials of the Prime Minister's Office. It's not surprising because no minister in charge of the CBI has actually ever fiddled with it. It has always been others - like NSA Doval or PMO officials or even the Law Minister, like in the Congress rule.
The Supreme Court on Friday placed the Central Vigilance Commission’s (CVC’s) corruption allegation probe into sidelined Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director Alok Verma under the supervision of retired Supreme Court judge A.K. Patnaik and told the commission to wind up the inquiry in two weeks.
The court also barred newly-appointed CBI interim director M. Nageswara Rao from taking any policy or major decision and ordered him to perform only routine tasks that are essential to keep the CBI functioning.
Rao was told to submit in a sealed cover a list of all decisions he has taken since 23 October, when he was made interim director, regarding transfers and change of investigating officers.
The CVC, through solicitor-general Tushar Mehta, sought more time to conduct the inquiry, saying two weeks would not be enough. “Considering the nature and load of this issue, this time will not be sufficient as there are many documents we will have to go through and there is Diwali in between,” Mehta said.
Calling the Centre’s action “patently illegal”, Verma, in his plea, said it was in violation of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, which gives the CBI director a two-year term.
On Wednesday, Verma and CBI’s special director Rakesh Asthana was sent on leave. In an order, the appointments committee of cabinet said Rao, who was a joint director of the CBI, had been appointed as interim director.
The case will be heard next on 12 November.
Image courtesy: Google
Information Courtesy: Google