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Selection of CBI Chief Gets Delayed

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The Supreme Court had on Tuesday conditionally reinstated Verma as the CBI chief a day earlier, months after the government divested him of the duties of the director following an internal feud with his deputy Rakesh Asthana in the agency.

Verma took charge as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director on Wednesday and is expected to rescind the transfer orders of some of his key people, sources familiar with the matter said.

The top court has given the selection committee one week to meet and discuss whether Verma needs to be removed or not.

`The selection committee on CBI chief comprising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, chief justice of India and leader of largest opposition party in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge may not meet as scheduled on Wednesday evening to decide on the case of reinstated director Alok Verma.

Kharge has written a letter to the government saying that he was busy with the Lok Sabha proceedings and hadn’t studied the Supreme Court’s order on Alok Verma. In his letter, he has asked for the meeting to be held on January 11, giving him enough time to study the judgment. He said that he would be able to put forth his party’s point of view only after studying the judgment.

Senior Supreme Court judge, Justice AK Sikri will be part of the selection committee in place of the chief justice Ranjan Gogoi, according to sources with knowledge of the matter.

“The transfer of the director without the consent of the selection committee negates the legislative intent that is to ensure independence of CBI,” the court said.

“Within a week, the selection committee, led by the PM, will meet and look into the aspect of whether Verma needs to be removed or not,” it said.

That bench of the court had chief justice Ranjan Gogoi and that is why he is believed to have dropped out of the selection committee on the CBI director.

Alok Verma was divested of duties shortly after midnight on October 23 following a feud with his deputy Rakesh Asthana. Verma had contested his removal in the Supreme Court, saying due procedure was not followed in taking the action, which should have been done by the selection committee. The court reinstated him and asked the selection panel to take a call.

The government had however claimed that the decision to send Verma and Asthana on leave was taken on a report by CVC following corruption charges against both the officials in connection with cases being probed by the agency.

While opposition claimed victory over the SC order, with Congress president Rahul Gandhi saying “some justice has been done”, government defended itself. Finance minister Arun Jaitley said the removal of the two officials was necessary “in the larger interest of fair and impartial investigation and credibility of CBI”.