In a dramatic turn to the ongoing infighting between the top two of the CBI, the Department of Personnel and Training issued an order late Tuesday asking Joint Director M. Nageshwar Rao to take charge as interim Director.
Confirming the order, a senior government official said both CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma and his second-in-command Rakesh Asthana have been told to go on leave.
The offices of Mr. Verma and Mr. Asthana were searched on the orders of the “interim” CBI Director Mr. Nageshwar Rao, a CBI official said on the condition of anonymity.
The order dated October 23, issued on instructions of the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet says Mr. Rao will look after duties and functions of CBI Director as an "interim measure" with immediate effect.
Terming it an "illegal" order, lawyer Prashant Bhushan told The Hindu that he would challenge it in the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
The development is being seen as the fallout on going tussle between the CBI chief and its second-in-command for the past over a year.
The order comes days after the CBI registered an FIR against Mr. Asthana, accusing him and Deputy Superintendent of Police Devender Kumar of extortion and corruption. Mr. Devender Kumar was arrested and is now in CBI custody.
Chain of Events
A CBI source said that then Director Alok Verma is said to have issued an order around 9.30 p.m. on Tuesday divesting Mr. Asthana of all responsibilities as Special Director, following which Mr. Verma himself was sent on leave and
Mr. Rao given charge as temporary Director.
Around midnight on Tuesday, Mr. Verma was informed that the Government had taken a decision to send him on leave and divest him of all responsibilities.
Separately, a source in the Department of Personnel & Training said the Government decision to send Mr. Verma on leave was taken according to a “recommendation” from the Chief Vigilance Commissioner.
It has been learned that Mr. Verma will move Supreme Court through lawyer Gopal Shankar Narayan.