Verma revokes transfers done in his absence
Selection Panel’s meeting on CBI chief’s fate ends inconclusively, to meet again today
A day after he was reinstated by the Supreme Court, CBI Director Alok Verma on Wednesday resumed office and revoked most of the transfer orders issued by then director (incharge) M Nageshwar Rao.
Rao had transferred 13 officials, including those probing the corruption case against second-in-command Rakesh Asthana. They include Deputy SP AK Bassi, who was probing the case against Asthana, to Port Blair. Other officers probing Asthana, including SS Gurm and DIG MK Sinha, too were transferred to Jabalpur and Nagpur respectively by Rao on October 24.
A Sai Manohar, Joint Director, Special Investigation team probing several major cases, has been transferred by Verma. Joint Director Policy AK Sharma, also incharge of the anti-corruption wing, was transferred to Multi-Disciplinary Monitoring Agency by Rao.
Deputy SP Tarun Gauba had replaced Bassi after interim director Rao’s orders and other officers Satish Dagar and DIG V Murugesan were appointed by Rao to probe the case against Asthana.
Through a midnight order on October 23, the Government had sent both Verma and Asthana on leave pending an enquiry by the Central Vigilance Commission and appointed Rao as the interim CBI director. Rao had ordered the transfers on October 24.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led High Power Committee for Selection of CBI Director met here late in the evening to take a call on the fate of Verma.
Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi’s nominee Justice AK Sikri and Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge also attended the meeting at the PM’s residence at the Lok Kalyan Marg. The committee will again meet on Thursday.
Sources said the CVC briefed Modi on the findings of the vigilance watchdog against Verma. The CVC had earlier probed allegations of graft against Verma under the monitoring of retired SC judge AK Patnaik. The SC had during the hearing of Verma’s petition challenging the Government decision to send him on leave termed some findings of the CVC as “very uncomplimentary.”
During the meeting, Kharge is learnt to have pointed out that Verma should be given a chance to defend himself before the committee headed by the PM.
Kharge also demanded that Verma lost 77 days of office due to the Government’s decision to send him on leave so he should be compensated and a probe should be ordered on the events of October 23/24 leading to the transfer of Verma.
Kharge also demanded that a copy of the CVC report against Verma should be given to him, sources said.
While there was no official communication on the outcome of the high powered panel’s meeting, sources said it could meet again.
The apex court had on Tuesday reinstated Verma as the CBI Director. It quashed the government’s unprecedented “overnight” order of October 23, stripping him of his powers and sending him on leave after he and his deputy Asthana were engaged in a bitter feud alleging corruption against one another.
The court, while reinstating Verma, however, made it clear that he will “cease and desist” from taking any major policy decision till a high-powered committee considers the issue of “divestment of power and authority”.
Verma is scheduled to superannuate upon completion of two-years’ tenure as CBI Director on January 31.
Chief Justice of India Gogoi and senior Congress leader Kharge are among the members of the panel. But Justice Gogoi is learnt to have recused from the Committee meeting and nominated Justice AK Sikri as a representative.
Following the SC order on Tuesday reinstating Verma as CBI chief, Verma joined the office at about 10.40 am.
The Modi Government had on October 23, 2018 sent Verma and Asthana on forced leave.