In late night order, govt strips CBI chief Alok Verma of charge

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New Delhi, October 24: The Narendra Modi government has divested divested Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director Alok Verma of all duties, hours after he did the same to his deputy Rakesh Asthana, following a feud between the two.

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In an order at 2.30 am on Wednesday served at Verma’s residence, the government said he was being divested of all responsibilities, said an official familiar with the development.

Before being divested of all responsibilities as the CBI chief, Verma too had signed an order at 9pm on Tuesday divesting his deputy Rakesh Asthana of all responsibilities.

In the interim, the government has asked joint director, M Nageswar Rao, a 1986-batch Orissa-cadre officer, to take charge as acting chief.
In his first order as acting chief, Rao removed the investigation officer (IO) of the bribery case against Rakesh Asthana.

Asthana in his complaint to the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) had alleged that the IO, Ajay Bassi, was acting at the behest of director Alok Verma.

The CVC, which has superintendence over the CBI in corruption cases, and is already seized of the complaint by Asthana against the director and the counter FIR registered against him by the CBI, will seek a fair and impartial probe into the charges and counter charges.

More changes in the investigation agency are being effected by the interim director to ensure a fair and impartial probe.

Asthana, the second senior-most officer in the federal agency who has been accused of taking bribes, had secured protection from arrest from the high court, which ordered a ‘status quo’ until the next hearing on October 29.

In a counter-allegation, Asthana in a complaint to the cabinet secretary on August 24 had alleged that Verma had received a bribe of Rs 2 crore from a Hyderabad-based real estate agent Sathish Sana whose role was being investigated by a team led by Asthana in a bribery case allegedly involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi.

He had also alleged that Verma had called him over phone in February to not call Sana for questioning.

In a surprising and unprecedented move on October 15, the CBI has booked Asthana and investigation officer of the case on the charges for receiving bribe from Sana through middlemen Manoj Prasad and Somesh Prasad.

The CBI has arrested Devender Kumar, the DySP and investigation officer, alleging that he had fabricated the statement of Sana purportedly claiming that a Rajya Sabha MP had met Verma on his pending case and assured him of relief and a clean chit.

Source Hindustan Times