New Delhi, Oct 24 (IANS) Shortly after assuming charge of CBI, Joint Director M. Nageshwar Rao constituted a new team to probe bribery allegation against its Special Director Rakesh Asthana, who has been at war with sidelined Director Alok Verma.
The agency’s move came after the Centre virtually sacked CBI Director Alok Verma by asking him to go on leave, and the agency transferred as many as 13 of its officers, shunting out almost all those in Verma’s team which was probing bribery charges against CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana.
CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal said the action has been taken to inquire into the case against Asthana “expeditiously, impartially and fairly.”
“The CBI is working as a team as always,” he said.
“CBI is working normally. There is no change in its functioning. There is no scope of groupism in CBI. We will restrict ourselves under our mandate. We will not comment on Central Vigilance Commission work,” Dayal said quoting Rao.
The government on Wednesday divested Verma and Asthana of their “functions, power, duty and supervisory role in any manner as Director CBI and Special Director CBI respectively”.
The official statement said the action against Verma and Asthana was taken on the recommendation of the Central Vigilance Commission, which met on Tuesday evening and divested the two officials of their functions and powers in respect of cases already registered and/or required to be probed under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
It said grave allegations of corruption by senior functionaries of CBI against one another has vitiated the official ecosystem of the organisation.
The war between the two officials had escalated after Asthana had written to the CVC in August levelling allegations of misconduct and corruption in the probe into meat exporter Moin Qureshi case while the CBI registered a case on Sunday against Asthana accusing him of accepting bribe to settle Qureshi’s case.
The CBI on Monday arrested agency’s Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Devender Kumar in the case against Asthana. He was remanded in CBI custody till October 30 by a local court on Tuesday.
Apprehending coercive action, Asthana approached the Delhi High Court on Tuesday which granted him him interim protection from arrest till October 29.
The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet had last night appointed Rao, a Joint Director, to look after the duties and functions of CBI Director.