What fuelled the feud in CBI?

The charges against Asthana came to light after Dubai-based middleman Manoj Kumar gave a confessional statement before a magistrate stating that he paid Rs 2 crore to Asthana on behalf of Moin Qureshi, who is being probed by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on charges of money laundering.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has dismissed as "rubbish" allegations that CBI director Alok Verma was removed because he wanted to investigate the Rafale deal. An FIR was registered against Asthana - said to be close to multiple officials at the PMO - by the CBI in a bribery and corruption case a week ago, followed by Asthana's complaint to the CVC in which he alleged that Verma was interfering and impeding his probe in different cases. A corruption case, counter charges and cases in court. Hence, the decision to suspend Verma could only be taken by the special committee, and not by the DoPT. "As per the report, Mr. Alok Verma had apparently ordered a discreet enquiry against Mr. Rao, when he was posted as Joint Director, Chennai Zone, CBI and had ordered transfer of the investigation of important cases from Chennai Zone of CBI to Banking and Securities Fraud Cell of Bengaluru".

CBI Director Alok Verma was divested of his powers on Tuesday night.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday went all out against PM Modi over CBI infighting and alleged Rafale scam.

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"The recent developments with regard to various actions taken by Director/Special Director of the CBI have also become a subject matter of critical and negative public debate which has the serious potential of eroding the trust and faith which the CBI enjoys", the Ministry order said.

Meanwhile, the fight within the agency has triggered a big political fight in India with opposition parties hitting out at the Centre. The HC had given an interim order directing the status quo to be maintained till October 29, effectively nullifying any possibility of Asthana's arrest. "We will look into the issue", the bench of the top court said.

Asthana was also probing the INX Media case, allegedly involving former Union minister P. Chidambaram, as well as the IRCTC tender issuance case involving former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav.

  • Sonia Alvarado