SC hearing on CBI's Alok Verma petition updates: Govt can't imprison truth, protests exposed PM, says Rahul Gandhi

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SC hearing on CBI's Alok Verma petition updates: Govt can't imprison truth, protests exposed PM, says Rahul Gandhi
  • 16:46 (IST)

    Congress leaders protest in Guwahati

    Activists and leaders of Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) staged a dharna outside the CBI office in Guwahati, as part of the party's nationwide protest.

    Slamming Prime Minister Narendra Modi for allegedly "degrading the autonomy of the nation's top investigating agency", APCC president Ripun Bora, who led the demonstrators, said Verma was divested of powers to "stifle probe into allegations of corruption in Rafale jet deal".

    "We are protesting against Modi's disgraceful attempt to prevent an investigation into the Rafale scam by removing CBI chief Alok Verma," he said. — PTI

  • 16:17 (IST)

    8 leaders, 150 workers detained for 20 minutes: DCP South

    "Eight leaders and 150 workers were detained for 20 minutes and then released," ANI quoted DCP South Vijay Kumar as saying on the Congress protests outside the CBI headquarters in New Delhi.

  • 16:11 (IST)

    Government won't be able to imprison truth: Rahul Gandhi

  • 16:09 (IST)

    Karnataka Congress members protest outside CBI office in Bengaluru

    Karnataka Congress workers staged a protest in front of the CBI office in Bengaluru following the party's call for a nationwide agitation.

    However, MLAs and corporators did not take part in the protest in the city, though the party high command had directed legislators to participate in the agitation.

    The only prominent face was party's national general secretary and Karnataka in-charge KC Venugopal.

    Karnataka is ruled by the Congress-JD(S) coalition.

    Defending the absence of senior party functionaries, Congress spokesperson Subhash Agarwal told PTI the agitation was only symbolic and hence, the presence of MLAs and corporators did not matter much. — PTI

  • 15:53 (IST)

    Tarun Gogoi joins protest

    Former Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi joins the protest outside the CBI offices in Guwahati.

    Image sourced by Pranjal Baruah/101Reporters

  • 15:35 (IST)

    FirstCut By Manjul Toons

  • 15:27 (IST)

    Cong activists demonstrate outside CBI office in Odisha

    Hundreds of Congress activists and leaders staged a demonstration outside CBI office here on Friday, as part of the party's nationwide protest against the decision of the Centre to send the probe agency's director, Alok Verma, on leave. 

    The demonstrators, led by Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee President Niranjan Patnaik, raised slogans against the Centre, alleging that Verma was sent on leave to stall investigation into charges of "corruption" in Rafale jet deal. 

  • 15:14 (IST)

    We are not protesting against CBI, we are protesting against Narendra Modi's interference: Anand Sharma

    Speaking to reporters outside the Lodhi Colony police station, senior Congress leaders like Ashok Gehlot and Anand Sharma said that it should be clear that the protests are being held against Narendra Modi's interference in key institutes in India.

  • 15:01 (IST)

    PM can run and hide but at the end truth will be revealed: Rahul Gandhi

    Rahul Gandhi was released from the Lodhi Colony Police Station soon after his detention. Coming out of the station, Congress chief said that the prime minister cannot flee from the truth. Prime Minister Narendra Modi panicked and the current CBI unrest is due to that, Rahul told reporters outside the police station. "PM can run, he can hide but in the end, truth will be revealed. Removing CBI Director will not help. PM acted against CBI Director; it was an act out of panic," Rahul said. 

  • 14:48 (IST)

    Tamil Nadu: Congress leaders accuse Narendra Modi govt of disrupting Rafale investigation

    Tamil Nadu Congress Committee leaders protested against the dismissal of CBI chief in front of Shashtri Bhavan in Nungambakkam, which hosts several union government offices. State unit head S Thirunavukkarasar headed the protest that was attended by former state chief Kumari Ananthan, Thangabalu and other Congress MLAs.

    Thirunavukkarasar accused the Centre of removing Alok Verma to disrupt investigations into the Rafale deal. The move was made without consulting the opposition and disrespects the Supreme Court, he said. Modi has destroyed CBI's credibility, he added. The protestors were later arrested by the police.

    Mydeen Abdul Kadar/101Reporters

  • 14:42 (IST)

    Raj Babbar, 50 Congress workers arrested in UP

    At least, 50 Congress workers, along with state chief Raj Babbar have been detained by the Uttar Pradesh police. They had earlier tried to storm the barricades.

    Saurabh Sharma/101Reporters

  • 14:36 (IST)

    Visuals: Rahul Gandhi inside Lodhi Colony Police Station

    Congress president Rahul Gandhi was detained and taken to the Lodhi Colony Police Station. The Congress president was leading a protest march against the CBI row. 

  • 14:19 (IST)

    Hope CBI's institutional integrity will be upheld, says Arvind Kejriwal after SC order

    Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Friday welcomed the "intervention" by the Supreme Court in the turmoil at the CBI and hoped the institutional integrity of the investigating agency will be upheld. 

    "Welcome intervention by the hon'ble Supreme Court of India in the CBI matter. In the interests of the nation, hope that institutional integrity of CBI will be upheld & powers that be will understand that their illegal acts will not go un-challanged (sic)," Kejriwal tweeted.

  • 14:08 (IST)

    Randeep Singh Surjewala confirms arrest of Rahul Gandhi, other leaders

    "Congress president Rahul Gandhi and other leaders who were protesting near CBI headquarters have been arrested," says party leader Randeep Surjewala.

  • 14:07 (IST)

    Congress workers surround police bus carrying Rahul Gandhi, thwart its progress

    Live protest visuals show that Congress workers have surrounded the police vehicle carrying senior Congress leaders, including Rahul Gandhi. The police van, which was reportedly taking the leaders to Lodhi road police station, has not been able to budge forward from the protest site. 

  • 13:59 (IST)

    Rahul Gandhi, Congress leaders to be taken to Lodhi road police station 

    Congress president Rahul Gandhi, along with senior party leaders Ashok Gehlot, Pramod Tiwari and Ahmed Patel are being taken to the Lodhi Road police station. They were detained after they refused to turn back the procession they were trying to lead to the CBI headquarters. The leaders, instead parked themselves merely 200 metres from the CBI HQ. 

  • 13:52 (IST)

    Raj Babbar, Congress workers held from outside CBI's Lucknow office 

    Congress workers, who were holding a sit-in dharna outside the CBI office in Lucknow, under the leadership of state Congress committee president Raj Babbar have been detained. Babbar was also taken into custody. He accused the central government of dividing society and destroying constitutional institutions. The CBI has been dragged into the controversy to suppress the corruption by the Prime Minister and his cronies, he added. "This is Modi's jugaad to save himself," he said.

    Input by Saurabh Sharma/101Reporters

  • 13:42 (IST)

    Rahul Gandhi, top Congress leaders courts arrest near CBI Headquarters

    Congress president Rahul Gandhi and several top Congress leaders have courted arrest barely 200 metres from the CBI headquarters. Dramatic visuals played out in the high security area of national capital as Opposition protesters jostled with policemen and tried to breach the barricade. Meanwhile, Rahul courted arrests amid chants of 'Chowkidar Chor hai'.

  • 13:33 (IST)

    Watch: First govt reaction after SC hearing on Alok Verma plea

    "The Supreme Court has further strengthened the fairness criteria. They have appointed a retired judge for the probe and given a time limit to ensure that the truth comes out. The truth coming out is in larger interest of the country. The government considers it as a very positive move," says Union minister Arun Jaitley. 

  • 13:32 (IST)

    CBI officials, like Caesar's wife should be above suspicion, says Arun jaitley 

    Finance Minister Arun jaitley said the Supreme Court order on the CBI is a positive development. He said: "The current CBI controversy is an extremely positive development. Government has no interest for or against any individual. The Centre is interested in maintaining professionalism, image and constitutional integrity of CBI."

  • 13:24 (IST)

    Watch: Showdown in heart of Delhi as police detains Congress workers trying to breach barricade outside CBI HQ

  • 13:14 (IST)

    INC leaders try to break police barricade ahead of CBI HQ; situation remains tensed 

    A huge mob of protesters has gathered just 200 metres away from the CBI headquarters. A show-down of sorts seems to be developing between the cops and protesters in the heart of the national capital as some of the protesters are trying to break through the barricades set up by the police. The tension seems to be rising as the police waits for the protests to precipitate. Meanwhile, the mob too has refused to budge. 

    Congress president Rahul Gandhi has also climbed atop a bus parked in front of the barricade and is sitting there. 

  • 13:04 (IST)

    Congress protesters park truck in front of police barricade, stage sit-in 200 metres from CBI HQ
     
     
    Rahul Gandhi got on to a truck in front of the police barricades put up outside the CBI headquarters to prevent the protesters from reaching the building. Top Congress leaders took part in the march that culminated in a demonstration outside the CBI headquarters. Leaders of other parties also joined the protest as a mark of solidarity.​ Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav, CPI leader D Raja and TMC's Nadimul Haque joined the Congress protest that started from outside Dayal Singh College on Lodhi Road. 
     

  • 12:50 (IST)

    Water canon fired at Congress protesters in Chandigarh 

     Police use water cannon at Congress workers who are protesting against the removal of CBI Director Alok Verma in Chandigarh. 

  • 12:43 (IST)

    Congress march stopped by police ahead of CBI HQ

    As Rahul Gandhi lead Congress protest march against removal of CBI director, the Delhi Police stopped the protesters just ahead of the CBI headquarters. The road leading up to the CBI HQ was heavily barricaded. The protesters were stopped barely 200 metres before the CBI headquarter. 

  • 12:35 (IST)

    Rahul Gandhi arrives at Dayal Sing College, leads Congress' march

    Congress president Rahul Gandhi led the party as it staged a protest march from Delhi's Dayal Singh college. The party is demanding reinstatement of CBI director Alok Verma, who has been sent on leave, and an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for "destroying" the image of the premier investigating agency. 

  • 12:28 (IST)

    Delhi Police block Lodhi road as Congress top brass descends on streets 

  • 12:19 (IST)

    Senior congress leaders joined by rebel JDU leader Sharad Yadav at Deen Dayal Upadhyay College for protest march

    Senior Congress leaders including Ahmed Patel, Ambika Soni and Anand Sharma arrived at Delhi's Deen Dayal Upadhyay College, the starting point of the Congress protest march. Expelled JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav has also joined the Congress protest. 

  • 12:11 (IST)

    Meanwhile, Congress takes out march against CBI shake-up 

    As the Supreme Court heard petitions filed by Alok Verma and Prashant Bhushan, the Congress launched its protest near all offices of CBI across the country. In New delhi, the party started off its march from Lodhi Road. 

  • 12:01 (IST)

    What the Supreme Court said in today's ruling?

    Hearing CBI director Alok Verma and Prashant Bhushan's NGO Common Cause's plea, the Supreme Court made the following observations: 

    • SC ordered a CVC inquiry to be conducted under supervision of retired Supreme Court Judge AK Patnaik.
    • The report of this enquiry will be submitted with two weeks from now. 
    • Interim chief M Nageshwar Rao cannot take any imporrtant policy decisions. 
    • All decisions taken by Rao, since 23 October to be submitted in sealed envelop to SC. 

  • 11:55 (IST)

    All decisions of interim chief to be submitted in sealed cover to SC; next hearing on 12 Nov 

    Apart from limiting CBI's interim director from taking any policy decisions, the Supreme Court also ruled that all decisions taken by M Nageshwar Rao since 23 October should be submitted to the Supreme Court in a sealed envelop. 

  • 11:48 (IST)

    Court monitored SC probe to have restricted scope, will only explore prima facie case of wrong doing

    The Supreme Court, in a bid to find a solution to the current impasse at CBI, has ordered a time bound Supreme COurt monitored probe against both Astahan and Verma. The court, however, said that at this stage, the enquiry will be only to find out whether there is a prima facie case of corruption against the CBI officials. 

  • 11:43 (IST)

    Nageshwar Rao to remain interim CBI chief, but won't take any decision, says SC

    Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has ruled that the CBI interim chief Nageswara Rao will not take any decision on policy matter. CJI Ranjan Gogoi said that Rao may only undertake the agency's routine work in his capacity as interim chief, adding that the court can't allow this matter to prolong in the interest of country. 

  • 11:41 (IST)

    SC extends time to submit report to 2 weeks; retd SC judge to oversee probe

    The Supreme Court has extended the time span to submit the report on CVC enquiry against Alok Verma to two weeks. The Chief Justice, however, denied a similar request to extend the time span to three weeks. CJI Ranjan Gogoi said that the CVC probe wil be monitered by retired Supreme Court judge AK Patnaik.

  • 11:30 (IST)

    CJI orders CVC to conclude inquiry within 10 days, SC to monitor probe

    According to latest reports, the Supreme Court allowed a CVC probe against the CBI director. The court suggested that a court-monitored investigation should be concluded within a span of 10 days. Following this, the government has sought more time form the Supreme Court. 

  • 11:26 (IST)

    Supreme Court hearing begins, Fali S Nariman starts arguments on behalf of CBI director Alok Verma 

  • 11:15 (IST)

    Breaking News: Police sources say Opposition march won't be allowed to reach near CBI HQ

    CNN-News18 reported that the Congress march to the CBI headquarter will be blocked just before it reaches the agency's office. The police sources told the news channel that the protesters will be stopped just before they approach CBI headquarters. Meanwhile, the Congress party vowed to continue its protest despite all resistance. 

  • 10:59 (IST)

    Breaking: Rakesh Asthana moves court challenging govt order to send him on leave

    CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana has moved the Supreme Court challenging the order by the Central government to send him on leave, Bar and Bench reported. Asthana's petition was filed through advocate Amit Anand Chowdhury a few minutes back.

  • 10:54 (IST)

    Heavy police bundobust at CBI HQ in Delhi, ahead of Congress protests 

    The security outside CBI headquarters in New Delhi has been beefed up ahead of the Congress-led protests. The Delhi Police has deployed additional forces and water canons for mob control. All the roads leading to the agency's headquarters have also been blocked, India Today reported. 

    Apart from Delhi Police, CISF personnel have also been deployed outside the agency's office. The police has barricaded the entrance to the CBI's office and has kept ambulances, riot control teams on standby. 

  • 10:48 (IST)

    CBI vs CBI will also witness the clash of ‘Legal Titans’ 

    As the battle between the warring Number 1 and Number 2 of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) reaches to the Supreme Court, the feud has now assumed an important constitutional question: Whether procedures were followed by the CVC when it unilaterally divested Alok Verma of his powers. 

    Now, as the fight reaches to the Supreme Court, it will also witness the clash of ‘legal luminaries’. The fact that Alok Verma is represented by India’s towering jurist and legal luminary Fali S Nariman, while Rakesh Astahan will be represented with former Attorney General and Senior Supreme Court Lawyer Mukul Rohatgi, one can expect enough ‘heat’ in the courtroom. 

  • 10:43 (IST)

    Just another case, says Rakesh Asthana's counsel Mukul Rohatgi ahead of SC hearing 

    Former Attorney General and senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who is representing Special Director Rakesh Asthana, said: "It is just one more case. What is big about it? It is not as important as you think it is." 

  • 10:41 (IST)

    In CBI vs CBI row, court to decide upon technicalities of CBI director's appointment, removal 

    As political as the discussion relating to the CBI shake-up may have become, the Supreme court of India is set to decide upon the technicalities of procedures laid down in appointment of the CBI director. The apex court will decide whether the government followed all laid-down procedure when they sent Alok verma on leave. The court is also likely to take note of allegations of corruption against senior ranking officials. Advocate Prashant Bhushan has sought a SIT monitored probe against all corrupt officials, including Rakesh Asthana. 

  • 10:32 (IST)

    Rakesh Asthana's counsel, Mukul Rohoatgi leaves home to reach SC

  • 10:28 (IST)

    TMC's Nadeem-ul Haq to join Congress march to CBI HQ 

    Trinamool Congress will join the Congress party protest led by Rahul Gandhi at Central Bureau of Investigation headquarters against the removal of CBI Director Alok Verma; Visuals from outside CBI headquarters in Delhi. Party leader Nadeem-ul Haq will join the Congress protest as TMC representative. 

  • 10:18 (IST)

    Rahul Gandhi urges people to join protests against 'PM’s disgraceful and unconstitutional attempt' to block Rafale probe

    Congress president Rahul Gandhi has urged people to join him in protesting against the prime minister's isgraceful and unconstitutional attempt' to block investigation into what he alleges is the Rafale scam. He will be leading the Congress party's march to the CBI headquarters from Lodhi road.

  • 10:16 (IST)

    Heavy security outside CBI HQ; additional forces deployed

    The security outside CBI headquarters in New Delhi has been beefed up ahead of the Congress-led protests. The Delhi Police has deployed additional forces and water canons for mob control. All the roads leading to the agency's headquarters have also been blocked, India Today reported.

  • 10:16 (IST)

    CVC cannot curtail CBI chief’s tenure, selection panel's nod important to touch agency's director 

    The Supreme Court will examine today that whether the government and the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) were right in unilaterally forcing the CBI Director on leave, even if they acted under the assumption that the move will restore public faith in the country’s premier investigative agency. 

    However, according to a report in The Hindulegal experts opine that the CBI director cannot be transfered or stripped of his powers unilaterally by the CVC. 

    Legal experts refer to Section 4B(2) of the DSPE Act, which mandates that the CBI Director cannot be “transferred” without the previous consent of a high-power committee chaired by the Prime Minister. They say that since the CBI Director is appointed on the recommendation of this committee which has the Leader of the Opposition and the Chief Justice of India as members. Relieving the CBI chief of his post would, as a natural corollary, require taking the consent of this committee.

  • 10:04 (IST)

    CBI reiterating that Alok Verma remains its chief may tilt scales against him in SC today

    According to a report in NewslaundryCBI's recent statement, reiterating that both Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana continue to hold their posts seems to have dampened Verma's arguments challenging government's decision to send him on leave. 

    "Given this last-minute unprecedented development, Verma’s petition challenging the government decision to take away his powers and send him on forced leave sounds paradoxical; how can a petition be heard against the government for removing the CBI chief when the CBI itself has come out on the front-foot and announced that Alok Verma will still be heading the country’s central investigating agency?," the report argues. 

  • 09:55 (IST)

    Security beefed up outside regional CBI offices ahead of Congress-led protests 

  • 09:50 (IST)

    Update: Fali S Nariman, Sanjay Hegde to represent Alok Verma

    Senior advocates Fali S Nariman and Sanjay Hegde will represent Director of Central bureau of Investigation, ALok Kumar Verma in the Supreme Court Today. Verma had moved the apex court against government order to send him on leave, alleging tacit interference in the agency's functioning. The hearing is set to begin shortly.

Supreme Court hearing Alok Verma plea LATEST updates: Rahul Gandhi has tweeted saying that the government cannot imprison the truth.

Rahul Gandhi was released from the Lodhi Colony Police Station soon after his detention. Coming out of the station, Congress chief said that the prime minister cannot flee from the truth. Prime Minister Narendra Modi panicked and the current CBI unrest is due to that, Rahul told reporters outside the police station. "PM can run, he can hide but in the end, truth will be revealed. Removing CBI Director will not help. PM acted against CBI Director; it was an act out of panic," Rahul said.

As many as 50 Congress leaders, including, state chief Raj Babbar have been detained by the Uttar Pradesh police. They had earlier tried to storm the barricades.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi Friday courted arrest after staging a protest outside the CBI headquarters against the move to divest CBI Director Alok Verma of his powers and send him on leave. He has arrived at the Lodhi Colony Police Station in New Delhi along with a huge congregation of Congress supporters.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi and several top Congress leaders have courted arrest barely 200 metres from the CBI headquarters. Dramatic visuals played out in the high security area of national capital as Opposition protesters jostled with policemen and tried to breach the barricade.

A huge mob of protesters has gathered just 200 metres away from the CBI headquarters. A show-down of sorts seems to be developing between the cops and protesters in the heart of the national capital as some of the protesters are trying to break through the barricades set up by the police. The tension seems to be rising as the police waits for the protests to precipitate. Meanwhile, the mob too has refused to budge.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi led the party as it staged a protest march from Delhi's Dayal Singh college. The party is demanding reinstatement of CBI director Alok Verma, who has been sent on leave, and an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for "destroying" the image of the premier investigating agency.

The Supreme Court Friday sought a response from the CBI, the CVC and the Centre on agency Director Alok Kumar Verma's plea challenging the government's decision to divest him of his duties and send him on leave.

Congress-led Opposition protests in Delhi. Firstpost/Ravishankar Singh

Congress-led Opposition protests in Delhi. Firstpost/Ravishankar Singh

Apart from limiting CBI's interim director from taking any policy decisions, the Supreme Court also ruled that all decisions taken by M Nageshwar Rao since 23 October should be submitted to the Supreme Court in a sealed envelop.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has ruled that the CBI interim chief Nageswara Rao will not take any decision on policy matter. CJI Ranjan Gogoi said that Rao may only undertake the agency's routine work in his capacity as interim chief, adding that the court can't allow this matter to prolong in the interest of country.

CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana has moved the Supreme Court challenging the order by the Central government to send him on leave, Bar and Bench reported.

CBI's recent statement, reiterating that both Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana continue to hold their posts seems to have dampened Verma's arguments challenging government's decision to send him on leave.

"Given this last-minute unprecedented development, Verma’s petition challenging the government decision to take away his powers and send him on forced leave sounds paradoxical; how can a petition be heard against the government for removing the CBI chief when the CBI itself has come out on the front-foot and announced that Alok Verma will still be heading the country’s central investigating agency?," the report argues

Former Attorney General and senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who is representing Special Director Rakesh Asthana, said: "It is just one more case. What is big about it? It is not as important as you think it is." 

Congress president Rahul Gandhi has urged people to join him in protesting against the prime minister's isgraceful and unconstitutional attempt' to block investigation into what he alleges is the Rafale scam. He will be leading the Congress party's march to the CBI headquarters from Lodhi road.

The security outside CBI headquarters in New Delhi has been beefed up ahead of the Congress-led protests. The Delhi Police has deployed additional forces and water canons for mob control. All the roads leading to the agency's headquarters have also been blocked, India Today reported.

The Trinamool Congress has decided to join the Congress-led protests outside all CBI offices today. Party chief Mamata Banerjee said that the CBI has unfortunately turned into BBI (BJP Bureau of Investigation) and announced that the party will support the protests against government's bid to destroy the institution of India's highest investigative agency.

TrinaA three-judge bench consisting of Chief Justice of Indian Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph is set to hear a petition filed by CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma challenging order of the CVC divesting him of the functions, duties and powers of CBI director. The same bench will also hear PIL filed by an NGO Common Cause through advocate Prashant Bhushan, challenging the legality pf government order sidelining the CBI chief.

According to latest reports, senior advocate Fali S Nariman will represent CBI director Alok Verma in court, meanwhile, the CVC will be represented by Solicitor General of India, Tushar Mehta. Advocates Mukul Rohtagi and Amrendra Sharan are appearing for Special Director of CBI, Rakesh Asthana.

Leader of the Congress party in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge has demanded answers from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the action against CBI director Alok Verma without consulting other members of the panel that selected him.

In a strongly-worded letter to the prime minister, Kharge accused him of acting "arbitrarily" and creating a "false equivalence of charges" between the CBI director and his deputy Rakesh Asthana.

Kharge was part of a three-member panel headed by Modi that had selected Verma last year to head the CBI. The then Chief Justice of India Jagdish Singh Khehar was the other member of the selection committee.

CBI, meanwhile, seems to have pulled off a move thereby which Alok Verma's plea in Supreme Court might not hold water in the courtroom. On Thursday, CBI announced that Verma - irrespective of the fact that he has been stripped off his powers and been sent on forced leave since 23 October - will still retain the position of Director in the CBI. At the same time, his deputy Rakesh Asthana, who was also sent on leave along with his boss, would retain his post of Special Director.

As reports pointed out, "given this last-minute unprecedented development, Verma’s petition challenging the government decision to take away his powers and send him on forced leave sounds paradoxical; how can a petition be heard against the government for removing the CBI chief when the CBI itself has come out on the front-foot and announced that Alok Verma will still be heading the country’s central investigating agency?"

As the CBI deals with an unprecedented internal crisis, all eyes are on the Supreme Court on Friday when its Director Alok Verma's plea against the Centre's order divesting him of duties and sending him on leave is slated to come up, amid high drama Thursday over the presence of Intelligence Bureau officers outside his official residence in New Delhi.

Ahead of the hearing in the apex court, the CBI clarified Verma and Rakesh Asthana, who are locked in a bitter feud that triggered the crisis, will remain its Director and Special Director, in a bid to stress they were not removed from their posts. Both Verma and Astana were stripped of their powers and sent on leave by the Centre on the intervening night of Wednesday and Thursday.

The statement by a CBI spokesman in which it was also said appointment of Joint Director M Nageshwar Rao to discharge the duties of the agency director was only an interim arrangement came amid an escalating attack by Congress president Rahul Gandhi on the Modi government over the crisis in the country's premier probe agency.

The spokesman said the arrangement will continue until the Central Vigilance Commission(CVC) decides on its probe into graft allegations against the CBI's top two officers.

Addressing a poll rally in Rajasthan and a news conference later in Delhi, Gandhi said forcing Verma to go on indefinite leave was "illegal" and alleged it was done as the government "panicked" over the possibility of him investigating the controversial Rafale jet deal.

Senior BJP leader Prakash Javadekar rejected as "manufactured lie" Gandhi's charge that government panicked over the possibility of him investigating the Rafale deal.

At a news conference, the union minister also emphatically said that the CBI chief was not removed and only sent on leave.

In a veiled reference to Nageswara Rao, Gandhi also alleged that the interim charge of the agency has been given to a person who has cases against him so that the prime minister can control him.

In a related development, the Supreme Court said it would consider according urgent hearing to a PIL seeking court-monitored SIT probe into the allegations of corruption against various CBI officials, including Asthana.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi considered the submission of lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO 'Common Cause' that there were wider issues of corruption affecting the probe agency and the PIL needed to be heard urgently.

In his legal challenge before the apex court, Verma also sought stay of the Centre's order asking him to proceed on leave and giving interim charge of his post to Rao, a 1986 batch Odisha-cadre IPS officer.

Verma's petition is listed for hearing before a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph. It will come up along with the petition filed by 'Common Cause'.

The CBI chief contended that the decision taken "overnight" by the Centre and the CVC to divest him of his role as the head of the probe agency was "patently illegal" and such interference "erodes" the independence and autonomy of the institution.

A row also broke out after four men belonging to the Intelligence Bureau(IB) were picked up outside Verma's official residence.

While Home Ministry officials said the four men were on "routine, covert" duties in the high security area outside Verma's 2 Janpath residence, sources said they were taken away by police and questioned.

The IB is entrusted with the responsibility of collecting intelligence on situations that may affect public order and internal security. Among other things, its units are "routinely" deployed in "sensitive areas", a Home Ministry official said.

At times, this is done in association with local law enforcement agencies, and at other times, a surprise element is built in, he added.

This also enables law enforcement agencies to respond immediately to developing situations. The officials carry their identity cards since they are on "routine duties", he explained.

"This is unlike surveillance, which is done without any visible appurtenances. One unit, in the early hours of today, halted at Janpath where there was an unusual collection of people," the official said.

This was with a view to check why people had collected at the location.

"This is a high security zone where several protectees reside. Unfortunately, their presence was projected otherwise," another official said.

Though police sources said the men were being interrogated, Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) Madhur Verma denied that police detained and questioned them.

The CBI which refused to comment on the question about the status of Verma and Asthana Wednesday issued a clarification saying, "Alok Verma continues to remain Director of CBI, Asthana remains Special Director."

"M Nageswar Rao is looking after duties and functions of the Director in the interim period till the time CVC looks into allegations and counter allegations," CBI Spokesperson said in a statement

The CBI also rubbished as false a news report that files related to several crucial cases, including that of the Rafale fighter aircraft deal, was under the consideration of Verma when he was divested of his powers by the Centre in a midnight order.

“This is being manufactured by vested interests. Every file in the CBI at each level is accounted for,” he added.x


Updated Date: Oct 26, 2018 16:55 PM

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