New Delhi: Justice AK Sikri has been nominated by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi to be a part of the Selection Committee along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge which will decide the case of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Director Alok Verma later on Wednesday. Noteworthy, the CJI has recused himself from the committee as he was in the Supreme Court panel that reinstated Verma as CBI Director on Tuesday.
Verma joined office on Wednesday, a day after the Supreme Court set aside a much-criticised late-night order by the Central government on October 23, 2018 which had sent him on a forced leave.
In its order on Tuesday, the apex court set aside Verma’s forced leave but restrained him from taking any major policy decision till the CVC probe into corruption charges against him is over.
The apex court said any further decision against Verma, who retires on January 31, would be taken by the high-powered committee on the basis of the findings of the Central Vigilance Commission inquiry, which should be convened within a week. Notably, the committee is responsible for selecting and appointing the CBI director.
The top court also set aside the Centre’s decision to appoint senior IPS officer M Nageswara Rao, who was joint director, as the agency’s interim chief.
Penned by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, the judgement was pronounced by Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph.
The Centre took the decision to send Verma and CBI’s Special Director Rakesh Asthana on leave after their feud become public. The top two charged each other of corruption.
The Centre said Verma and Asthana were fighting like ‘Kilkenny cats’, exposing the country’s premier investigating agency to ‘public ridicule’.
Reacting on the verdict, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the government took the decision to protect the integrity of the investigative agency and described the action as ‘perfectly bonafide’.
On the other hand, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said that no one can save PM Modi from Rafale investigation and the entire nation will know “without a shadow of doubt” that he has taken Rs 30,000 crore of people’s money and given it to his ‘friend’ Anil Ambani.
Speaking to reporters outside Parliament, Gandhi said the CBI chief was ‘ousted’ at 1 AM as he was about to begin an investigation into the Rafale jet agreement and Prime Minister Modi and his government cannot run away from a probe into the deal.