Alok Verma shunted out of CBI, appointed DG Fire Services
11 January 2019
A day after the Supreme Court reinstated exiled Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director Alok Verma, the selection committee consisting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Supreme Court Judge A K Sikri and leader of the largest party in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, on Thursday shunted him out of the post and appointed him as the DG of Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guards.
CBI Additional Director, M Nageshwar Rao, who was in charge during Verma’s exile, will continue to look after the duties of the director, CBI till the appointment of a new director or until further orders, according to sources.
The decision came after a two-hour meeting of the prime minister-led selection committee in New Delhi, during which Modi and Justice Sikri, the second most senior judge of the apex court, voted in favour of removing Verma and Kharge opposed the move.
The selection committee meeting on Wednesday night failed to take a decision as the meeting remained inconclusive.
The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) appointed Verma as DG Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guards and issued necessary orders.
Verma and his second-in-command Special Director Rakesh Asthana, who has also been suspended pending investigation, were sent on the forced leave over two months ago in October 2018 after differences between the two came into the open. The two traded allegations and counter-allegations of corruption for weeks, leading to an all-out war, following which the Centre cracked the whip and sent both the officers on leave.
Verma moved the Supreme Court challenging his "forced leave" and the top court on Tuesday ordered his reinstatement, although with curtailed powers.
Verma has been asked to desist from taking any major policy decision till a high-powered committee considers the issue of "divestment of power and authority". "We deem it proper to direct that Verma, Director CBI, upon reinstatement, will cease and desist from taking any major policy decisions till the decision of the committee permitting such actions and decisions becomes available within the time frame indicated," a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said.
Asthana too had approached the Delhi High Court for quashing of an FIR registered by the CBI, reportedly at the instance of Verma, in an alleged corruption case. A decision in this regard is pending in the high court.
A 1979-batch IPS officer, Verma's two-year fixed tenure as CBI director was to end on 31 January 2019.