Alok Verma resumes office after 77-day forced leave

Alok Verma resumes office after 77-day forced leave

CBI Director Alok Verma joined office on Wednesday, 77 days after he was sent on forced leave by the central government through a much-criticised late-night order on October 23, 2018, which was set aside by the Supreme Court. PTI file photo

A day after the Supreme Court reinstated CBI Director Alok Verma, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday chaired a high-power committee meeting which saw demands for ordering a probe into the events of the intervening night of October 23-24 when the NDA government had packed off the top sleuth on forced leave in the wake of a raging controversy between him and the agency's number two Rakesh Asthana.

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who attended the meeting, is learnt to have pitched strongly for a thorough probe to determine what prompted the Modi government to act in such a hurried manner to send Verma on leave without consulting the three-member selection committee which is the only empowered body to take such calls.

Since Verma is set to retire on January 31, the selection committee will have to take a call in the next few weeks. Otherwise, the issue becomes infructuous.

The meeting saw a strong demand for studying the Central Vigilance Commission report on the charges against Verma in detail in order to arrive at a conclusion on his fate as continuance as CBI director.

Kharge is also learnt to have insisted on giving Verma a hearing before taking any decision on the charges against him. The committee is expected to meet again on Thursday.

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, who had authored the verdict on Verma's reinstatement, opted out of the meeting and deputed Supreme Court judge Justice A K Sikri in his place.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court had set aside the October 23 orders of the Central Vigilance Commission and the Department of Personnel and Training divesting Verma of his powers and asking CBI Joint Director M Nageshwar Rao to look after the duties of the director.

After Verma resumed duties on Wednesday morning, he revoked most of the transfers ordered by Nageshwar Rao.