CBI chief Alok Verma was set to retire on January 31
New Delhi: Alok Verma was removed as the chief of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday evening by a committee led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, barely 48 hours after he was reinstated by the Supreme Court. The committee said he "had not acted with the integrity expected of him". Mr Verma lost his high-profile job just weeks before his retirement on January 31. The decision was two against one: PM Modi and Justice AK Sikri -- representing Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi who had recused himself from the panel -- favoured Mr Verma's removal. Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, representing the opposition, put up a dissenting note. Reacting to his removal from the CBI, Mr Verma said that he was transferred on the basis of false, unsubstantiated and frivolous allegations made by only one person, who was trying to harm him.
Here are the top 10 developments in this big story:
- Alok Verma, on his return to work three months after being sent on leave by the government in a midnight swoop, took a series of controversial decisions; he cancelled the transfers of 10 officers and transferred five others.
- Mallikarjun Kharge, the dissenting member of the panel, questioned how Mr Verma could be removed without a hearing and argued that he should be restored to "ensure independence and neutrality of CBI". Contending that the CVC report lacked "substantial findings" against Mr Verma, Mr Kharge -- who had opposed his appointment in 2017 -- said his tenure should be extended as he lost 77 days after being "illegally' transferred".
- The PM-led panel based its decision after detailed discussions on a CVC report on the allegations against Mr Verma. The dissent note sent by Mallikarjun Kharge, which summarises the report, however, says it did not find any evidence to substantiate the main allegations against Mr Verma.
- Of the 10 allegations against Mr Verma, only three were substantiated, Mr Kharge's note says. The main allegation that Mr Verma took Rs 2 crore from a businessman being investigated by the CBI has not been substantiated.
- The Supreme Court had reinstated Mr Verma on Tuesday, scrapping the government's October order sending him on compulsory leave. The court, however, said he was not make any policy decision till the PM-led committee took a call on his status. Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi dropped out of the committee and nominated Justice Sikri as he was part of the bench that restored Mr Verma.
- Mr Verma has been appointed the chief of Fire Services and Home Guards. For now, Nageshwar Rao will replace him at the agency. .
- The accusations against Mr Verma was levelled by his number 2, Rakesh Asthana, in October, when the two officers traded corruption charges in an unprecedented public demonstration of rift within the country's premier investigating agency.
- As the government sent Mr Verma and Rakesh Asthana on immediate leave and appointed an interim chief in a midnight swoop on October 23, the officer approached the Supreme Court.
- The top court's order on Tuesday reinstating him is seen as a major loss of face for the government, which is under opposition attack over allegations of using the investigating agency as a tool against political rivals.
- Congress chief Rahul Gandhi tweeted: "Fear is now rampaging through Mr Modi's mind. He can't sleep. He stole 30,000Cr from the IAF and gave it to Anil Ambani. Sacking the CBI Chief #AlokVerma twice in a row, clearly shows that he is now a prisoner of his own lies."
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