PM-led panel on CBI issue to meet for second time; Cong leader Mallikarjun Kharge seeks docs

NEW DELHI: A selection committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet for the second time Thursday to decide the fate of CBI Director Alok Verma, reinstated by a Supreme Court order after he was sent on forced leave by the government, officials said.

The panel's meet held Wednesday remained inconclusive, they said, without giving further details.

The CBI chief and his deputy Special Director Rakesh Asthana were sent on the forced leave over two months ago to stop the "Kilkenny cat fight" between them. They had accused each other of corruption.

Verma, who resumed office on Wednesday, had revoked most of the transfers done by M Nageshwar Rao, who was appointed as the interim CBI chief in his absence.

The officers, whose transfers orders have been ordered to be withdrawn by Verma, are considered to be his confidants, the officials said.

The PM-headed panel comprises the Chief Justice of India (CJI) or a Supreme Court judge, and the leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha as members, the rules say.

Nominated by CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Supreme Court judge Justice A K Sikri and leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge had attended the Wednesday meeting, the officials said.

Kharge has sought documents, including inquiry report by the Central Vigilance Commission into the matter.

"I have asked certain documents from the government concerning the matter including the CVC's enquiry reports," he told reporters here.

Gogoi has opted out of the panel's meet as he was part of the bench that gave the verdict on Tuesday which reinstated Verma as the CBI director.

There's no leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha because no opposition party had managed to get the mandatory 10 per cent seats out of the total membership.

Kharge is the Congress's leader in the Lok Sabha.

The top court had asked the government to convene the meeting within a week of its order. It had quashed the government's unprecedented "overnight" order issued in October last year, stripping Verma of his powers and sending him on leave after he and his deputy traded corruption charges, sparking a bitter feud.

The court, while reinstating Verma, however, made it clear that he will desist from taking any major policy decision till a high-powered committee considers the issue of "divestment of power and authority".

Verma had challenged his ouster from the CBI in the apex court.

Asthana has also 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.

Verma's two-year fixed tenure as CBI director ends on January 31.

 

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PTI