Days after the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led panel controversially removed CBI Director Alok Verma from his post, the government on Thursday moved the CBI’s Special Director Rakesh Asthana out of the federal probe agency. Also, facing the boot from the CBI are Alok Verma’s core team members including AK Sharma and Manish Sinha.
Sinha was probing Asthana in the bribery case involving the money laundering accused meat exporter Moin Qureshi. Sinha had previously alleged that a middleman named Manoj Prasad had paid Rs 2 crore to Rakesh Asthana for a favourable settlement of Qureshi’s case.
The government’s decision to move Asthana and several core team members of Verma is being seen as an exercise to clear the mess ahead of the next CBI chief’s appointment. The high-powered Selection Committee comprising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and the Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge are expected to meet in Delhi on 24 January to discuss the names of Verma’s successor.
Verma and Asthana were removed from their posts in a midnight coup on 23 October last year. This was days after Verma had ordered the firing of an FIR against Asthana in the bribery case. Verma had also reportedly sought papers related to the Rafale scam, where Modi is being accused of corruption by Congress President Rahul Gandhi.
The Supreme Court had earlier this month reinstated Verma in his post, but two days after the top court’s verdict, the high-powered committee had removed Verma from his post against and sent him to head the Home Guards. Verma refused to accept the new posting and resigned from the service.