The leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, on Saturday moved the Supreme Court in support of Central Bureau of Investigation Director Alok Verma, questioning the Centre’s decision to send him on leave. Kharge contended that neither the government nor the Central Vigilance Commission has the power to curtail Verma’s tenure.

“I filed a petition before the Supreme Court requesting them to quash the Centre’s order because it is illegal,” Kharge told ANI. “It is not only illegal. They should have called a meeting of the prime minister, chief justice and me [before taking the decision to send Verma on leave]. Without a meeting, without the committee’s consent, they overnight asked him to go on leave.”

He added that the government’s decision was in violation of the CBI Act. “The Central Vigilance Commission also violated rules,” he said. “It is a clear-cut, direct involvement by the Prime Minister’s Office in autonomous bodies. So I have filed a petition before the Supreme Court.”

The Congress has alleged that Verma was sent on leave because he wanted to investigate the Rafale aircraft deal between India and France. On Friday, Congress President Rahul Gandhi claimed that French firm Dassault Aviation, which manufactures the fighter jets, had paid Rs 284 crore to Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence. Reliance Defence has an offset contract under the deal, an agreement that the Congress alleges was signed at the direction of the Narendra Modi government.