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Published On: Thu, Jan 17th, 2019

After Alok Verma, Govt Now Remove CBI No.2 Rakesh Asthana

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AsthanaNEW DELHI : In a surprise move, the government on Thursday decided to move out CBI No2. Rakesh Asthana, who was involved in a bitter feud with now removed CBI director Alok Verma, from the premier investigating agency with immediate effect, said sources.  Along with Asthana, AK Sharma, MK Sinha and Jayant Naiknavare too have been removed forthwith. Sources say, the decision to move them out of the CBI was taken at a meeting held this morning at the CVC.
Rakesh Asthana, number 2 to former CBI chief Alok Verma, was moved out of the premier investigating agency today, just a week after his boss. The unprecedented public rivalry between the officers — involving tit-for-tat corruption allegations and a bribery case against Mr Asthana —  had engulfed the country’s premier investigating agency in a huge controversy over the last months.

Asthana has now been moved to Bureau of Civil Aviation, AK Sharma will be ADG, CRPF and MK Sinha to Bureau of Police Research and Development.  On October 15, the CBI had booked Rakesh Asthana and Satish Sana Babu, a businessman from Hyderabad, for alleged corruption.

Later in the day, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) had also shot off a letter to the then CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma conveying the apprehensions of Asthana of “bias and prejudice” in case of an investigation against him. Verma too slapped a counter case against Asthana. This forced the government to step in, and late on October 23, Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana were divested of their responsibilities and an interim director was appointed.
The decision to remove Asthana from the CBI comes ahead of the PM-led selection panel’s meet on January 24 to decide on new CBI director. The government faced a lot of criticism when the PM-led selection panel decided to remove Alok Verma from the CBI boss’s chair last week. The Congress questioned the urgency in removing Alok Verma, who was moved out barely a day after he was reinstated by the SC. On Monday, the appointment of M Nageswar Rao as the interim CBI Director was challenged in the Supreme Court.
Mr Verma’s removal from the top post last week has created a political storm. The decision of the special panel led by PM Modi was based on a report by the anti-corruption watchdog Central Vigilance Commission on the allegations against the officer. Congress’s Mallikarjun Kharge, who was part of the panel, had pointed out that the allegations against Mr Verma was unsubstantiated.
Mr Verma claimed he was transferred on basis of “false, unsubstantiated and frivolous allegations” made by a person “inimical to him”. The officer, who was retiring by the end of this month, quit a day later, refusing to take charge as the Chief of Fire Services.
The petition filed by NGO Common Cause has sought a direction to quash the January 10 order by the Centre appointing Rao as the interim/acting Director of the CBI. Several other members of Mr Verma’s team, including AK Sharma and Manish Sinha, have also been moved out. Sources said the churn is meant to clear the decks for the appointment of a new chief. A special panel led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet on January 24 to pick Mr Verma’s successor.
Mr Asthana — who has been moved to the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security — and Alok Verma were sent on forced leave in October as the Prime Minister intervened in the massive infighting that made headlines for several days. Mr Verma had initially opposed the elevation of Mr Asthana — a Gujarat officer whom Congress chief Rahul Gandhi had dubbed “the PM’s blue-eyed boy” – to the CBI amid controversial circumstances.
The tension between the two officers flared up after Mr Verma’s team filed a police case against Mr Asthana, accusing him of taking bribes from a businessman on the agency’s radar. In letters to the government, Mr Asthana alleged that it was his boss who took bribes and framed him. After the police case was filed, he retaliated by taking the CBI to court and requested that the case against him be cancelled. After the Delhi High Court rejected his appeal, Mr Asthana had appealed for a correction in the judgment.(With Agency Inputs ).

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