The Supreme Court will on Friday, October 26, hear a plea by CBI Director Alok Verma challenging the Centre's order asking him to proceed on leave.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on Wednesday, October 24, said Verma's plea would be taken up on October 26 after his counsel pressed for an urgent hearing on the midnight order issued against the central probe agency's chief following an escalation of rift between the top officials at the Bureau over bribery charges.
In another development, CBI DIG Manish Kumar Sinha, DIG Taurn Gauba, DIG Jasbir Singh, DIG Anish Prasad, DIG KR Chaurasia, HoB Ram Gopal and SP Satish Dagar have been transferred. They were probing cases against Special Director Rakesh Asthana
In another latest development, CBI DIG Tarun Gauba, SP Satish Dagar and Joint Director V Murugesan will probe charges against CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana.
Earlier on Wednesday, October 24, the agency's chief Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana were sent on leave by the government. Joint director M Nageshwar Rao will take over as the interim director of the investigating agency.
The moves comes after the the Central Vigilance Commission passed an order seeking removal of all powers of both Verma and Asthana.
Nageshwar Rao is a 1986 batch IPS officer from the Odisha cadre.
The agency had filed a bribery case against Asthana, who wrote to the government listing several charges against his boss. Asthana, who challenged the bribery charges against him on Tuesday, October 23, and sought protection from arrest at the Delhi High Court. He will not be arrested until Monday, October 29.
In his petition filed through advocate Amit Anand Tiwari, Asthana said the case against him was “malafide” and that Verma was “trying to falsely implicate him (Asthana) to hide his own criminal misconduct of influencing investigation in exchange of money”.
The court’s order status quo means Asthana cannot be arrested for now, but the CBI can continue with the investigation against him and he can be questioned. The status quo also does not apply to administrative aspects.
The order implies that the government has sidelined all the three additional directors number three in the agency's hierarchy, including A K Sharma, whose name had figured in the complaint by Asthana.
There are reports that the CBI Headquarters has been sealed and neither officials nor outsiders are being allowed as a team of officers is inside the building, the sources said.
According to sources, Asthana will no longer be in charge of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) handling sensitive investigations like the AgustaWestland bribery case, the Vijay Mallya loan default case and the IRCTC land-for-contract case against Bihar politician Lalu Prasad.