The petition filed in the Supreme Court by Central Bureau of Investigation official Alok Verma on Wednesday said that the investigating agency’s autonomy was being compromised as “certain investigations into high functionaries do not take the direction that may be desirable to the government”. Verma had moved the court on Wednesday morning, hours after the government sent him on leave from his position as the CBI director and named M Nageshwar Rao the interim director.

The court said it would hear Verma’s plea on Friday.

Verma urged the top court to insulate the agency from governmental interference. “Not all influence that is exerted by the political government would be found explicitly or in writing,” he said in his petition. “More often than not it is tacit and requires considerable courage to withstand.”

Verma told the court that decision of the Department of Personnel and Training and the Central Vigilance Commission to divest him of his powers overnight was “patently illegal”. The government’s order sending both Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana on leave was issued late on Tuesday. The two officers have been locked in a tussle and have accused each other of accepting bribes.

The CBI chief urged the court to quash the order, claiming it was arbitrary and issued without following the due process of law. He also accused Asthana of obstructing investigations, some “very sensitive cases including those monitored by the court”. Verma noted that he had express reservations against Asthana’s appointment as special director last year but he was appointed despite pending cases against him.

However, the CBI chief did not name the cases, saying they were “extremely sensitive”. He said he “shall however furnish the same” to the court, which will hear his petition on Friday.