Under fire from the Opposition for divesting CBI Chief Alok Verma of his powers, the government in its defence said that the midnight order was necessary to maintain the “institutional integrity and credibility of India’s investigation agency.” Addressing a press conference, Arun Jaitley, who termed the infighting in CBI as “extraordinary”, said the government’s order was based on the recommendations of the CVC.
He said “The two officers cannot probe the matter against each other. In the interest of fair probe and as an interim measure, both will sit out and a SIT not functioning under them will investigate the matter”.
Mr Jaitley also rejected Opposition’s criticism as “rubbish.” “The government is committed to ensuring that “India’s investigation agency doesn’t become a mockery as few of the officers have made it in the last few days. If the officers are innocent, they will come back,” he said.
Alok Verma who was “sent on leave” by the government, challenged the order the Supreme Court. The matter will now be heard Friday.
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Media reports say raids were also conducted at the CBI Headquarters in New Delhi this morning. Meanwhile, Joint Director, M Nageshwar Rao took charge of the agency and ordered a slew of transfers, including of those officers who were probing the alleged bribery charges against Rakesh Asthana.
Hours after Alok Verma was removed as CBI chief, Congress President Rahul Gandhi today claimed that whoever will try to expose the “Rafale scam” will be removed by the government. Gandhi alleged that Verma was going to investigate documents related to Rafale deal and was therefore removed by the government.
Speaking at a public rally in Hadoti, Rajasthan, Gandhi alleged that the “Chowkidaar Modi” removed Verma to save his “friends” from being exposed. “CBI Chief Alok Verma was collecting the documents related to the Rafale scam. He was sent forcefully sent on a leave. It’s a clear message that whoever tries to uncover the Rafale deal will be removed. The country and the Constitution is in danger,” Gandhi said.
Rahul further said that Modi “snatched” the Rafale deal from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and gave it to Anil Ambani to help him repay his bad loans. He accused PM Modi of taking money from the public and transferring it to “Ambani’s pocket”.
Meanwhile, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi accused Modi government of violating the CBI Act, saying, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi is suffering from Rafaleophobia and Verma was forced to go on leave to control the agency.” He also called the move “illegal and unconstitutional”.