Interim CBI chief's orders including mass transfers on hold

Meanwhile, the apex court has said former Supreme Court judge A K Patnaik will oversee a CVC inquiry into the allegations against Verma and the report has to be placed before it within two weeks.

It directed CBI to submit a list of all decisions taken by Rao before the court in a sealed cover on the next date of hearing, November 12.

He also claimed that CBI special director Asthana, who also has been asked to go on leave, had obstructed several decisions crucial to the investigation of "highly sensitive cases" including those monitored by the Supreme Court.

Congress and other opposition parties have accused Modi of removing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) chief Alok Verma this week because he wanted to investigate a 2016 deal to buy 36 Rafale jets from France.

The apex court has restrained CBI temporary director from making any major decisions in the wake of controversial mass transfer of 13 CBI officials after Alok Verma and his differences with CBI former special director Rakesh Asthana came to the surface. "They have fixed a time limit that this must be over in two weeks which is a positive development, and in order to ensure that the highest standards of fairness are maintained even in the inquiries, they have appointed a retired judge as an oversight judge to ensure that the CVC inquiry is absolutely fair", he said.

The CVC took an overnight decision to divest me completely of the CBI director's role.

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Gandhi was leading a noisy protest over the government's action in CBI.

Earlier today, Congress workers led by party chief Rahul Gandhi took to the streets against the Centre's move and slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the issue. It said for the time being, no monitoring by anyone else should be allowed.

It also said that the high-powered committee comprising the Prime Minister, leader of the opposition and Chief Justice of India was not consulted by the Centre before appointing Rao as the interim director.

On the whole, while both sides may have bones to pick with the order, the Centre is likely to be more aggrieved, since Verma's chief grievance - the orders of the CVC and Centre - could still be easily addressed subsequently by the court. Verma had claimed that the CBI's autonomy was being compromised as "certain investigations into high functionaries do not take the direction that may be desirable to the government".

Jaitley told mediapersons that the allegations that were being levelled by Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana had led to a "bizarre and unfortunate" situation.

  • Sonia Alvarado