In what is considered as the most dramatic twist to the tale, in the ongoing squabbling between the top brass of Central Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Personnel and Training issued an order late Tuesday asking Joint Director M. Nageshwar Rao to take over charge as interim CBI Director.
Confirming the order, a senior government official said “both CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma and his second-in-command Rakesh Asthana have been told to go on leave”.
The offices of Mr. Verma and Mr. Asthana were searched on the orders of the “interim” CBI Director Mr. Nageshwar Rao, a CBI official said on the condition of anonymity.
The order which was issued on the direction of the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet says Mr. Rao will look after the duties and functions of CBI Director as an "interim measure" with immediate effect.
This latest development is being seen as the fallout ongoing tussle between the CBI chief Alok Kumar Verma and its second-in-command Rakesh Asthana for the past over a year now.
The order comes days after the CBI registered an FIR against Mr. Asthana, accusing him and Deputy Superintendent of Police Devender Kumar of extortion and corruption. Mr. Devender Kumar was arrested and is now in CBI custody.
According to CBI source s, then Director Alok Verma is said to have issued an order around 9.30 p.m. on Tuesday divesting Mr. Asthana of all responsibilities as Special Director, following which Mr. Verma himself was sent on leave and Mr. Rao was given charge as temporary Director. Around midnight on Tuesday, Mr. Verma was informed that the Government had taken a decision to send him on leave and divest him of all responsibilities.
On the other hand, another source in the Department of Personnel & Training said the Government decision to send Mr. Verma on leave was taken according to a “recommendation” from the Chief Vigilance Commissioner.
The matter took a toll when the CBI filed an FIR mentioning Rakesh Asthana as accused no. 1 in a corruption case. The investigating agency accused Asthana of accepting around Rs 3 crore as a bribe from on Satish Sana in a case involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi.
Asthana, on the other hand, has accused Alok Verma of "interfering" in his work and had alleged that Verma had hatched a conspiracy to target him. Asthana also alleged that it was Verma who had accepted the bribe from Satish Sana.