Govt appointed M Nageshwar Rao as Interim Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after the premier agency’s special director Rakesh Asthana and its chief Alok Verma were divested of all duties late on Tuesday night, as a fallout of a spat between the two.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Appointments Committee in an order on Tuesday night gave the charge to Rao with immediate effect, a government order said. Rao, a 1986 batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the Odisha cadre, was working as the joint director in the investigating agency.
The order implies that the government has sidelined all the three additional directors, number three in the agency hierarchy, including AK Sharma whose name had figured in the complaint by Asthana.
In his first order as acting chief, Rao removed the entire team probing the bribery case against Asthana, including Ajay Bassi, the investigation officer (IO), and deputy inspector general Manish Sinha. The case was under the anti-corruption headquarters zone, which was under the powerful joint director Sharma.
The decision to give CBI’s charge to Rao comes after Asthana moved the Delhi high court on Tuesday seeking the quashing of the First Information Report (FIR) filed against him by the investigating agency. The court later ordered that no action would be taken against Asthana until next hearing, which is scheduled for October 29.
The CBI had filed an FIR against Asthana for allegedly accepting a bribe from a businessman, who was related to the Moin Akhtar Qureshi case. Asthana was heading the special investigation team (SIT) probing Qureshi’s case.
Asthana had also said Verma was trying to thwart investigations in important cases. However, the agency later issued a statement defending Verma.
Verma has moved the Supreme Court challenging his removal and the appointment of a new director. The court has listed the matter for hearing on Friday.