Alok Verma will remain CBI Director and his deputy Rakesh Asthana will remain Special Director, the investigating agency’s spokesperson said a day after both were sent on forced leave as a coda to their fierce wrangling. In events that unfolded after midnight on Tuesday, Alok Verma was stripped of his powers and M Nageshwar Rao was appointed interim chief. About a dozen officers who were in the director’s team and who were investigating charges against Rakesh Asthana, were transferred.
Mr Rao drove to the CBI headquarters in Delhi late on Tuesday night, escorted by the police, and took charge around 1.45 am, an hour after the government ordered the changes.
The CBI spokesperson said Mr Rao would look after the duties and functions of the CBI Director in the interim period till the time the Chief Vigilance Commission – the main anti-corruption body that has supervision over the CBI – examined allegations traded by Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana.
The top vigilance body recommended to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the CBI’s top two be sent on compulsory wait so that the allegations they had thrown at each other could be investigated.
“Neither of the two officers, nor any agency under their supervision can investigate charges against them,” Chief Vigilance Officer KV Chowdary said in his report.
PM Modi agreed, and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval reportedly set the process in motion by first getting a late night government order issued.
Yesterday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said that the changes were an “interim measure”… to maintain the fairness of an impartial probe… it was necessary that the two seniormost officers involved must sit out on leave till an impartial investigation is complete.”