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Within hours of being reinstated, Alok Verma shunted out as CBI chief by PM-headed panel
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Within hours of being reinstated, Alok Verma shunted out as CBI chief by PM-headed panel

New Delhi, Jan 10: For the first time in the history of the country's premier probe agency Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Alok Verma was on Thursday shunted out as its director on the charges of corruption and dereliction of duty.

The decision to "ease out" Mr Verma from the high profile post came after two hour-and-15 minutes meeting of the high-powered committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In a fresh order, the appointment committee on appointment has ordered that Mr Verma will move as Director General Fire Service, Civil Defence and Home Guards.

Mr Verma, a 1979-batch AGMUT-cadre IPS officer, had faced corruption charges on multiple counts in the CVC report presented before the High Powered Committee.

The other members of the panel included Congress floor leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and Justice A K Sikri, who was nominated by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi to represent him.

The decision to take action against Verma was taken by a majority 2-1 vote with Mr Kharge opposing the move. Congress sources said Mr Kharge also gave his note of dissent.

In a dramatic action and late night development, Mr Verma was sent on forced leave by the government on October 23 last year after he and his deputy Special Director Rakesh Asthana clashed.

Both had accused corruption charges against each other.

On Tuesday, January 8, the Supreme Court had set aside Alok Verma's forced leave but restrained him from taking any major policy decision till the CVC probe into corruption charges against him was over.

The apex court had said any further decision against Verma, who was scheduled to retire on January 31, would be taken by the high-powered committee headed by Prime Minister which selects and appoints the CBI director.

The Supreme Court had in the past fixed a minimum tenure of two years for the CBI director to give him immunity from any political interference.

During the UPA dispensation, through the Lokpal Act, the process of selecting the CBI chief was handed over to a selection committee comprising Chief Justice of India, Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha.

The Congress has flayed the decision to ease out Mr Verma.

"By removing Alok Verma from his position without giving him the chance to present his case, PM Modi has shown once again that he's too afraid of an investigation, either by an independent CBI director or by Parliament via JPC," the Congress party's Twitter handle said.

Meanwhile, focus will shift to the Delhi High Court, which on Friday is expected to pronounce verdict on pleas of CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana and others seeking quashing of FIR against them on bribery allegations.

Justice Najmi Waziri had reserved the judgement on December 20, 2018 on various petitions after hearing submissions of the counsel for CBI, the Centre, Asthana, Deputy Superintendent Devender Kumar, outgoing 'CBI director' Alok Kumar Verma and Joint Director A K Sharma. (UNI)