'Rao only interim chief, Verma still CBI director'

File photo.

A day ahead of Supreme Court hearing a petition on senior IPS officer Alok Verma on the government sending him on leave, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday said he remains the CBI Director while his bete-noire second-in-command Rakesh Asthana continue to be Special Director.

A CBI spokesperson said Joint Director M Nageshwar Rao has been given the charge to look after the duties and functions of the Director as an interim arrangement while the powers of the two officers have been divested.

"Alok Verma continues to remain the Director of the CBI, Rakesh Asthana remains as Special Director and M Nageshwar Rao is looking after duties and functions of the Director in the interim period till the time CVC looks into allegations and counter allegations," the spokesperson told reporters.

The remarks comes as the government intends to counter possible arguments in the apex court that Verma was divested of charges and Rao was appointed as interim chief by bypassing laws.

In their plea before Supreme Court, Verma and another petitioner Common Cause are arguing that the decision to send the former on leave was contrary to the provisions in law that CBI Director enjoys an uninterrupted two-year term.

They also argue that Rao's appointment was made without calling a meeting of the High Powered committee with the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition and Chief Justice of India as members.

The clarification also comes amid Opposition claiming that Verma was removed because of certain investigations he was planning to take up, particularly the Rafale deal.

In his petition in the Supreme Court, Verma mentioned, "as the CBI is expected to function completely independently and autonomously, there are bound to be occasions when certain investigations into high functionaries do not take the direction that may be desirable to the government."

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'Rao only interim chief, Verma still CBI director'

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