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Alok Verma removed as CBI chief by PM-headed panel, made DG Fire Services

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Barely two days after the reinstated him, was Thursday removed as by a high-powered committee headed by on charges of corruption and dereliction of duty, in an unprecedented action in the central probe agency's 55-year history.

Verma, a 1979-batch IPS officer, had resumed duty Wednesday, a day after the apex court paved his return with some riders and asked the three-member panel that selects the to decide on his continuance in a week in the light of charges against him in the report of the Central Vigilance Commission(CVC). Verma's two-year tenure as of Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI) is due to end on January 31.

Officials said the decision to move Verma out of the came after the high-powered committee met for the second time in two days here to decide his fate.

Verma has been posted as General Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guards, under the The charge of the CBI has been given to M Nageshwar Rao, said a government order issued on Thursday evening.

There were eight charges against Verma in the CVC report presented before the Committee that also comprised of in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and Justice A K Sikri, appointed by Justice of Ranjan Gogoi as his nominee.

The decision at the two-hour meeting of the Committee was taken by a 2 to 1 majority with Kharge opposing the move, officials said.

It also came a day ahead of the verdict by the on pleas by Verma's deputy Rakesh Asthana, a CBI Special Director, and others seeking quashing of the FIR against them on bribery allegations. Verma and Asthana had traded corruption charges and were locked in a bitter feud that led the Centre to divest them of their authority and sent them on leave on the night of October 23.

Kharge gave a dissent note and told the meeting that Verma, who was sent on forced leave, should be given a chance to present his case before the Committee on the allegations in the CVC report against him.

He also said Verma should not be penalised and be given an extension of 77 days for which he was not allowed to attend the office, according to sources.

However, the and Justice Sikri disagreed with Kharge's contention paving the way for Verma's outster, the sources said.

During the meeting, Justice Sikri said there are charges against Verma to which Kharge asked "where are the charges", according to the sources.

It is for the second time in 11 weeks Rao was given the charge of CBI. He was first given the charge after Verma was divested of his authority and sent on leave but this order was quashed by the apex court on Tuesday.

The and noted reacted strongly to the removal of Verma, saying he was not given a chance to present his case.

"By removing #from his position without giving him the chance to present his case, PM Modi has shown once again that he's too afraid of an investigation, either by an independent or by Parliament via JPC," tweeted from its official handle.

"The committee did not hear Verma. He should have been given a chance," said Bhushan, who had sought a court-monitored SIT probe into the allegations of corruption against various CBI officials, including Asthana in what is known as the CBI vs CBI case.

The CVC report spoke about the controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi's case and claimed that the CBI team looking into it wanted to make Hyderabad-based an accused but Verma never gave clearance, officials said.

The probe in this case was led by Asthana.

The CVC report also contained intercepts from the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), the external snooping agency, in which "money changing hands with number one in the CBI" is talked about, the officials said.

Incidentally, Sana is the complainant for a case registered against Asthana in which he has given graphic details about how he had allegedly paid bribe to his middlemen.

He has also mentioned the name of Samanta Goel, the second-in-command at the RAW, of being involved in allegedly protecting the middleman,

The other case relates to a Preliminary Enquiry registered by the CBI about acquisition of land in Gurgaon. The CVC alleged that Verma's name had figured in the case and at least Rs 36 crore had changed hands.

The CVC had recommended a thorough probe into the case.

The CVC, which has a supervisory role over the CBI, had also alleged that Verma tried to save an in the IRCTC case involving former Union

It also alleged that Verma was trying to bring in tainted officials into the CBI and claimed that efforts seeking cooperation from the CBI did not yield results as he continued to keep the files away from the vigilance body.

The apex court Tuesday reinstated Verma as the after quashing the Centre's unprecedented "overnight" order on October 23.

The court, however, clipped Verma's wings saying he cannot take any major policy decision till the high-powered committee decides on his continuation since the CVC is probing charges of corruption against him.

Asking the committee to meet within a week, the court said it was "still open" for the panel to consider the matter involving Verma and decide on divesting his authority.

Holding that the statute does not have any provision with regard to interim suspension or removal of the CBI director, the court made it clear that any such decision has to be taken after obtaining the consent of the selection committee.

The central issue before the court was whether the CVC and the Centre had the authority to divest Verma of his powers as .

Asthana has not challenged the order against him before the apex court but moved the for quashing of the FIR against him in a corruption case.

Congress attacked the government ahead of Thursday meeting and said Modi is in a "tearing hurry" to "sack" Verma because of the Rafale deal.

"Why will he not allow the to present his case in front of the selection committee ? Answer: RAFALE," Gandhi said on

A delegation of former ministers and along with activist had met Verma on October 4, 2018 with a plea for registering an FIR in the Rafale jet fighter deal with

Hitting out at the Congress over its attack on the over Verma's removal, the BJP called it a "sore loser" with party G V L saying it has been left to lick its wounds "after failing to subvert the CBI by joining internal personal battles".

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, January 10 2019. 21:30 IST