Minutes after CBI Director Alok Verma and Special CBI Director Rakesh Asthana were asked to step aside till investigation in the matter is concluded, Alok Verma has moved to the Supreme Court against the government's order to remove him as the CBI Director. Alok Verma has mentioned the case in Court number 1 of the Supreme Court. The case will be heard by the Supreme Court on Friday. Meanwhile, for the interim period, IPS Nageshwar Rao has been elevated as the CBI boss.
As per sources, the 10th and 11th floor of CBI Headquarters were sealed this morning as the floor host the offices of Director CBI, Special Director CBI and all Joint Directors CBI. However, the floors are now open for officers to enter.
Earlier in the day, Congress party questioned the government’s move. Questioning the Modi government’s intervention, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala had said that the Government “Can’t remove investigation teams,” adding, “Systematic dismantling & denigrating of CBI is now complete” with the move.
Reflecting the same, Former AAP leader and Public Interest Lawyer Prashant Bhushan jumped in the row and said that he will challenge the Government's decision. While addressing the media on Wednesday, he said:
"Many years ago, the Supreme Court in order to protect the CBI from Government control had directed that the CBI director has to be selected by a high powered committee consisting the Prime Minister, leader of the opposition and the Chief Justice of India. It is through that committee that Shri Alok Verma was selected. Supreme Court had further said that the tenure of the CBI has to be minimum two years, it obviously means that he cannot be removed prematurely by the Government except perhaps by the high powered committee itself and only when disciplinary Proceedings are initiated against him".
"Unfortunately, today the Government in order to protect Mr. Rakesh Asthana, who was brought in as a special director, they have removed Alok Verma. Alok Verma was investigating several corruption cases against Rakesh Asthana. Despite that, he was brought in. In order to protect Rakesh Asthana or perhaps in order to prevent an investigation into the Rafale deal, they ordered the removal Alok Verma and gave the charge to Nageshwar Rao. Nagaeshwar Rao has several serious complaints against him and Alok Verma had even recommended his removal from CBI. Now, we are certainly going to challenge all this. Our petition will hopefully be filled by tomorrow", he added.
Meanwhile, top government sources have said that those questioning the government decision must clarify whether they want anarchy. The government sources have also responded to the assertion of Prashant Bhushan have said that even if anyone challenges the decision, the Supreme Court won't entertain it.
The CBI, India's premier investigative agency, was in the midst of an internal war between its two top officials, Director Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana, with the latter having a bribery case filed against him, and, in turn, alleging that Verma received illegal gratification in the Moin Qureshi case.
On Tuesday, Rakesh Asthana moved Delhi High Court seeking quashing of FIR and coercive steps against him. Asthana, through his counsel, mentioned the matter before the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court in his chamber. Later in the day, the Delhi High Court denied staying the proceedings against Asthana and DSP Devendra Kumar. While denying to stay the proceedings, the High Court said that all electronic records of the accused to be preserved including mobile phones, laptops etc.