Amid internal tussle between Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) chief Alok Verma and special director Rakesh Asthana, the government stepped in and took a dramatic move by appointing M Nageshwar Rao as interim director on Wednesday. Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana have been divested of all powers and sent on leave on account of pending inquiry with the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).
A circular by Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions stated that the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved that M Nageshwar Rao, IPS, Joint Director CBI, will take over the duties and function of Director CBI with immediate effect.
According to reports, earlier in the day the CBI Headquarters were sealed and neither officials nor outsiders were allowed inside the building. Also, there were reports that a team of CBI officials was raiding the offices of CBI chief Alok Verma and special director Rakesh Asthana.
#BREAKING — Gopal Sankaranarayanan, lawyer appearing for Alok Verma, tells Supreme Court that the Central government had in the morning, asked Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana to go on leave compromising the investigation into many sensitive cases. | #CBIvsCBI pic.twitter.com/NS7Tkmq9pt
— News18 (@CNNnews18) October 24, 2018
On Tuesday, Mr Asthana approached Delhi High Court to seek quashing of an FIR lodged against him by the CBI. The court ordered CBI to maintain status quo until next hearing scheduled on October 29.
The CBI had registered an FIR against second-in-command Rakesh Asthana, who headed the Special Investigation Team (SIT) that was probing meat exporter Moin Qureshi graft case, for allegedly taking bribe of Rs. 3 Crore from a Dubai-based businessman.
The agency on Tuesday arrested Deputy Superintendent of Police Devendra Kumar for in connection with the bribery allegations against Asthana.
Earlier, Asthana had filed a complaint to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) accusing CBI Director Alok Verma of interfering in corruption case involving family members of Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad. Mr Asthana has since filed a dozen complaints against the CBI director. However, the CBI has issued a statement in which it defended Verma.