New Delhi: Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) chief Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana were on Tuesday sent on leave so that a fair probe could be conducted in the allegations against them. Announcing the decision to divest the two of their duties, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the decision was based on the CVC’s recommendations and asserted the need to “restore the agency’s institutional integrity and credibility”.Also Read - Rohini Court Blast Case: Police Arrest DRDO Scientist, Say Accused Wanted to Kill Lawyer Over Legal Matter

Defending its decision, the Centre alleged that Alok Verma had not been cooperating in the CVC probe on the allegations levelled against him by Number 2 Rakesh Asthana. It should be noted that while Asthana has accused Verma of trying to influence a number of cases including the IRCTC scam involving Lalu Prasad Yadav, the Special Director is accused of accepting a bribe of Rs 5 crore to influence the meat exporter Moin Qureshi case. Also Read - Delhi Police Tightens Security Across National Capital In View of Festive Season, Intensifies Patrolling

Here’s the government’s full statement on the removal of CBI chief Alok Verma and Deputy Rakesh Asthana: Also Read - Delhi Assembly Passes Resolution Against Rakesh Asthana's Appointment

1. The grave allegations of corruption by senior functionaries of CBI one against another, which has been widely reported in media, has vitiated the official eco-system of the organization. The environment of faction feud has reached its peak in the CBI leading to a potential loss of credibility and reputation of the Premier Investigating Agency of the Government It also vitiated the working environment of the organization which has deep and visible impact on the overall governance.

2. The CVC, on receipt of a complaint on 24th August, 2018 containing various allegations against the senior functionaries of the CBI has served three separate notices (under section 11 of CVC Act, 2003) on 11th September, 2018 upon the Director, CBI to produce files and documents before the Commission on 14″‘ September, 2018. Various opportunities have been given to produce such records and after several adjournments, though CBI assured the Commission on 24th September, 2018 to furnish the records within three weeks. Despite repeated assurances and reminders, the Director, CBI failed to furnish the records/files before the Commission. The CVC has observed that Director, CBI has not been cooperating in making available records/files sought by the Commission relating to serious allegations.

3. The CVC has also observed that the Director, CBI has been non-cooperative with the Commission, non-compliant with the requirements/directions of the Commission and has created willful obstructions in the functioning of the Commission which is a Constitutional body.

4. Considering the extraordinary and unprecedented circumstances which has emerged, the Central Vigilance Commission in exercise of its powers (section 8 of CVC Act, 2003) of superintendence over the functioning of DPSE (CBI), in so far as it relates to the investigation of offences alleged to have been committed under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. has passed orders divesting Shri Alok Kumar Verma, Director, CBI and Shri Rakesh Asthana, Spl. Director, CBI of the functions, power, duty and supervisory role in respect of cases already registered and/or required to be registered and/or being inquired/enquired/investigated under the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, until further orders.

5. The Government of India having carefully examined and evaluated the material made available to it, and being satisfied that an extraordinary and unprecedented situation has arisen which demands that Government of India shall exercise its powers under Section 4(2) of the DPSE Act. The Government of India has evaluated the material before it and in the interest of equality, fair play and principles of natural justice, decided to divest Shri Alok Kumar Verma, Director, CBI and Shri Rakesh Asthana, Spl Director, CBI of their functions, power, duty and supervisory role in any manner as Director, CBI and Spl. Director, CBI respectively.

6. This has been done as an interim measure and will subsist “till the CVC concludes its inquiry into all issues which have given rise to the present extraordinary and unprecedented situation and till the CVC and/or Government of India takes an appropriate decision in accordance with the law as regards to the measures to be adopted as a consequence thereof”.

7. In view of the above background, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved that during the period of such interim measure, Shri M. Nageshwar Rao, IPS, presently working as Joint Director, CBI shall look after the duties and functions of Director, CBI with immediate effect.