The Supreme Court will on Friday hear the petition of Central Bureau of Investigation Director Alok Verma challenging the Centre’s decision to send him on leave. The plea is expected to be heard at 10.30 am.
Verma moved the court on Wednesday morning, hours after the government – which named M Nageshwar Rao the interim director – took the decision. It came amid a tussle between the CBI chief and the agency’s Special Director Rakesh Asthana. On October 15, the agency named Asthana in a First Information Report in a bribery case. He was accused of accepting a Rs 2-crore bribe to scuttle an investigation into businessman Moin Qureshi, allegedly involved in multiple corruption cases. Asthana accused Verma was trying to falsely implicate him.
In his petition to the court, Verma said 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”. He also urged the top court to insulate the agency from governmental interference and quash the government order, claiming it was “patently illegal”.
The Supreme Court on Thursday also agreed to consider a petition seeking a Special Investigation Team inquiry into corruption allegations against officials of the agency, including Asthana. A non-governmental organisation called Common Cause sought the quashing of the government’s order an accused it of subverting the CBI through “brazen interference”.
Meanwhile, the investigative agency on Thursday clarified that Verma is still its director and Asthana will continue as the special director while the Central Vigilance Commission investigates the charges against the two.