In a stunning overnight 'coup' by the government, the CBI's warring top two officers, Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana, were sent on leave. M Nageswar Rao has been appointed as an interim chief. His first act after his late-night promotion was to sign orders shifting several members of a team investigating corruption charges against Rakesh Asthana.
"The decision to remove the director, special director was taken to restore institutional integrity and credibility of CBI," said Union Minister Arun Jaitley, articulating the government's first response to questions raised by the opposition.
"To maintain the fairness of an impartial probe...it was necessary that the two senior-most officers involved must sit out on leave till an impartial investigation is complete," Mr Jaitley said.
Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi said the CBI chief Alok Verma was sent on leave because he was "collecting papers of Rafale scam". The Congress President ramped up his attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the controversial Rafale fighter jet deal. He tweeted saying, "The Prime Minister's message is clear, whoever comes near Rafale will be removed, wiped out. The country and the constitution are in danger."
Here are the highlights on the massive infighting within the CBI:
"Several complaints were sent to CBI director (Alok Verma) against Nageswar Rao and there are reports that Alok Verma wanted to initiate investigations into allegations against him," the DMK chief said.
"The message is clear- Anyone who raises questions on Rafale deal will be removed. The nation and the Constitution are in danger," he said in the tweet.
Justifying the overnight move to send CBI's top two officers on leave, the government called it a move to ensure fairness and the "institutional integrity" of the country's top investigating agency.- NDTV (@ndtv) October 24, 2018
Read more here: https://t.co/hYfD5OzZoQ#CBIVsCBI#RakeshAsthana#AlokVermapic.twitter.com/vc0peD17Xw
In the CBI bloodbath that saw director Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana being sent on leave after their ugly public feud, it is the top boss of the investigating agency who has emerged the bigger loser.
Government has violated CBI Act; the prosecution agency, officers have been paralysed, says Congress' Abhishek Singhvi on CBI's top two officers who have been sent on leave- NDTV (@ndtv) October 24, 2018
Watch LIVE now on https://t.co/hMlRpgak2y
Track updates here: https://t.co/uunjEEfrlupic.twitter.com/cE5j1Hkdlz
"We allege that the CBI director was forced out because they are scared of the Rafale scandal," Mr Singhvi said.
"This government has refused to listen to the Supreme Court. Therefore, the Supreme Court order which mandates autonomy of the CBI has been nullified. The amendments have been nullified. Prosecuting officers have been made lameduck and have been alleged with extortion charges," he said.
"Since when does CVC have powers? CVC has no power to either appoint or dis-appoint you. You think CVC can violate section 4a and 4b? CVC is being misused by the government," he added.
Bassi has been transferred to Port Blair with immediate effect in "public interest".
SS Gurm, Supervisory Superintendent of Police of AC-3 unit of CBI in probe against Asthana, has also been transferred to Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, with immediate effect, said the IANS report.
CBI has now become so called BBI ( BJP Bureau of Investigation ) - very unfortunate!- Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) October 24, 2018
"During an investigation, red eyes or blue eyes do not matter. It is the evidence that matters," Mr Jaitley said.
"The two senior-most officers being on leave is purely an interim measure and will return at the end of the impartial probe, subject to their innocence," he said. "One must remember that the country's premier investigating agency cannot lose its integrity," he added.
Immediately after illegally removing the Director CBI, Alok Verma & illegally appointing tainted officer Nageshwar Rao as acting Director, the entire ACB team particularly those investigating PMO's blue eyed boy Asthana, are being replaced with alacrity! It is Modi's CBI Gate pic.twitter.com/rDIRYUEw4R- Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) October 24, 2018
Satish Dagar, SP. He probed Guru Ram Rahim and got a conviction
V Murugesan, Joint Director. He probed coal scam.
Tarun Gauba, DIG. He probed Vyapam case.
Is there a co-relation betn Rafale deal and removal of Alok Verma? Was Alok Verma about to start investigations into Rafale, which cud become problem for Modi ji?- Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) October 24, 2018
It was a 1 am "coup" that set in motion cataclysmic changes in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the country's top investigating agency, caught in a one-of-a-kind battle between chief Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana.
Amid corruption allegations and counter-allegations by CBI chief Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana, the duo have been sent on leave along with their trusted officers. The country's top investigating agency will now have M Nageswar Rao as the interim director. The CBI chief has challenged the order in the Supreme Court, which has listed the hearing for Friday.
Central BJP Intruders (CBI) have virtually taken over Caged Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to save Corrupt Brokers of India (CBI) through it's Criminal Barter Interrogation (CBI) by its Crooked Bureaucrats of Incompetence (CBI). #CBIVsCBI- Tejashwi Yadav (@yadavtejashwi) October 24, 2018
Supreme Court said 2 years tenure, before which he can't be removed and if he can be removed, it has to be done by the committee and only when disciplinary action is initiated against him, he said.
To protect Rakesh Asthana, Alok Verma has been removed. M Nageswar Rao, who has been given interim post, has been accused of corruption. No investigation has been conducted against it. 6 regular cases against Mr Rao are being investigated by the CBI itself.
- Central Vigilance Commission recommendation against him
- Government order appointing K Nageswar Rao in charge of CBI Director
- Government decision to send him on leave
It was a 2 am order that set in motion cataclysmic changes in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the country's top investigating agency, which is in the middle of a one-of-a-kind battle between the chief and his deputy.
M Nageshwara Rao took temporary charge of the CBI or Central Bureau of Investigation in the early hours of Wednesday after the government, in a late-night move, sent the top two officers of the agency, director Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana, on "compulsory leave".
He was the joint director of CBI before he was made the interim director.
A chemistry post-graduate from Osmania University, M Nageswar Rao did research in Madras IIT before joining the IPS.
Mr Rao, say sources, is reputed to be a tough cop and decorated administrator.
He earned accolades for his handling of his first posting in Odisha's Talcher, notorious for coal smuggling.
CBI chief Alok Verma, his deputy Rakesh Asthana and several other officers have been sent on leave in an unprecedented coda to a battle within the country's top investigating agency. M Nageswar Rao will take over as interim director, a government order said late on Tuesday evening.
3/n- Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) October 24, 2018
PM Modi has demonstrated the true colour of his infamous 'Modi Made Gujarat Model' by this cloak-and-dagger mugging of CBI.
Has the CBI Director been sacked for his keenness to probe the layers of corruption in Rafale Scam? Isn't the rest a shoddy cover up?
Let PM answer! pic.twitter.com/80ckyFiOJX
2/n- Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) October 24, 2018
PM Modi seeks to achieve surreptitiously & clandestinely what he can't do directly to sack the CBI Director.
Habitual and perpetual misuse of CBI by Modi Govt & BJP to tamper fair investigation of serious criminal cases is the reason for this unfathomable mess. pic.twitter.com/iH6fgeCtKI
Modi Govt buries the 'last nail' into the independence of CBI.- Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) October 24, 2018
Systematic dismantling & denigrating of CBI is now complete.
Once a premier investigating agency, PM ensures that CBI's integrity, credibility & reliability is 'buried & dead'. 1/n pic.twitter.com/11b451jYBV
What are the reasons for sending CBI director on leave? Under which law did the Modi govt get the authority to initiate action against the chief of an investigating agency appointed as per the Lokpal Act ? What is Modi govt trying to hide ?- Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) October 24, 2018
Breaking! As feared&suspected, the govt has removed the Director CBI from his charge, because he was pursuing corrupt Spl Director Rakesh Asthana who was foisted on CBI by PMO despite his being investigated by the CBI itself in corruption cases.Totally illegal. Will be Challenged pic.twitter.com/KyZgEUBpyF- Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) October 24, 2018