CBI Additional Director M Nageswar Rao was removed from his position at the premier investigating agency and appointed Director General Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guard by the government on Friday, in a move strikingly similar to the upheaval at the agency a few months ago.
A 1986-batch IPS officer from Odisha cadre, Mr Rao held the position of interim chief of the Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI twice.
In January this year, the government had decided to remove former agency director Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana amidst an unprecedented tussle between the two. Alok Verma too had then been posted as Director General Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guards, under the Union Home Ministry.
They had levelled allegations of corruption against each other after which the government handed over the charge to Mr Rao till the appointment of Rishi Kumar Shukla as the new CBI director in February this year.
The tension between the two officers peaked after Mr Verma's team registered a case against Mr Asthana, accusing him of accepting bribes from a businessman being investigated by the agency in a corruption case. Both were then sent on forced leave in October last year following the centre's intervention.
Alok Verma was replaced by M Nageswar Rao but was brought back by the Supreme Court. On January 10, Mr Verma was again removed as boss of the high-profile investigating agency by a panel led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, just two days after the Supreme Court order.
In February this year, Nageswar Rao was found guilty of contempt for ordering the transfer of an officer investigating the sexual abuse of children at Bihar's government-run shelter homes by the Supreme Court. Rejecting their apology, the judges fined him and another officer Rs 1 lakh each and asked them to sit in the corner of the court till it rises for the day, in a rare form of punishment.
Mr Rao was also central to the CBI's investigation of former Kolkata police chief Rajeev Kumar, accused of destroying evidence in the Saradha chit fund scam. The investigation had prompted accusations from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that Mr Rao was acting with a vendetta under orders from the central government.