Alok Verma takes charge again, day after being reinstated as CBI Director

New Delhi: A day after being reinstated by the Supreme Court, Alok Verma resumed charge as the CBI Director on Wednesday, about two-and-a-half months after being divested of his powers and sent on leave by the government.

Verma’s two-year tenure as CBI Director ends on January 31.

On the midnight of October 23, 2018, the government had sent Verma along with Special Director Rakesh Asthana, Number two in the CBI, on leave in the wake of their bitter fight.

Verma had challenged the government’s order in the Supreme Court which on Tuesday directed that he be reinstated as the CBI chief but barred him from taking any major policy decisions.

He has also been asked by the top court to respond to the CVC inquiry on corruption allegations in a sealed envelope.

Meanwhile, sources said on Wednesday that senior most judge of the Supreme Court Justice AK Sikri will be a part of the Selection Committee, comprising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, that will decide the fate of Verma.

Justice Sikri will represent the Chief Justice of India, who is normally a member of the Selection Committee which selects a CBI chief and also decides his fate.

The Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, while reinstating Verma on Tuesday, said the Central government should have referred the case to this Selection Committee if it wished to initiate the removal of the CBI director.

The judgement, read out by Justice Kaul as the Chief Justice was on leave, said the Selection Committee will be called within seven days from Tuesday to take a decision on the basis of the findings of the CVC inquiry into the corruption allegations against the CBI Director.

The apex court was hearing the plea of Verma and NGO Common Cause challenging the Central government’s decision to send him on forced leave and divesting him of all responsibilities, calling the move an “extraordinary and unprecedented” situation.

The court also said that till then Verma will refrain from taking any important policy decisions.

During a hearing in December last year, the CVC, while confronting questions over the Centre’s sudden decision of October 23, had told the apex court that “extraordinary situations sometimes need extraordinary remedies.”

CJI Gogoi had raised questions over the timing of the order and asked why the government took immediate steps to divest Verma of his powers without consulting the Selection Committee.

Asthana accused the CBI Director of accepting a bribe from a Hyderabad-based businessman being investigated by the agency. Simultaneously, Verma also accused Asthana of the same crime.

After sending Verma on leave and divesting him of all responsibilities, CBI’s Joint Director M Nageswara Rao was given the charge of the CBI as its interim chief.