Alok Verma, reinstated conditionally by the Supreme Court on Tuesday, will take charge as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director again on Wednesday, said an official familiar with the development. His first act may be to rescind the transfer orders of some of his key people.
“Verma is likely to take a call on transfers and postings of officials effected by interim director M Nageswara Rao on October 24. Most of them likely to be restored to their pre-October 24 postings but he is unlikely to change the team now probing the case against the agency special director Rakesh Asthana,” added this person who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The thinking in the Verma camp is that this doesn’t violate the court’s restriction on him taking policy decisions because transfers are administrative.
In all, Rao ordered transfers and postings of 13 officials including the agency’s powerful joint director (policy) AK Sharma, deputy inspectors general (DIG) MK Sinha, Anish Prasad, KR Chaurasia, Tarun Gauba, additional superintendent of police SS Gurm and deputy superintendent of police AK Bassi.
When Verma challenged in the Supreme Court the government order divesting him of all the responsibilities as the agency’s chief, some of these officials who were transferred by Rao, including Bassi and Sinha who were probing the FIR registered against Rakesh Asthana, filed intervention applications (IAs) seeking a hearing in the matter.
The top court on Tuesday quashed the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) order divesting Verma of all responsibilities and two subsequent orders of the government, one reinforcing the CVC order on Verma’s removal, and another on the appointment of Rao as interim director.
The court refrained from passing any order on the petitions of officers who were transferred and approached court.
Commenting on these, it said: “Coming to the several IAs filed, we are of the view that the orders of transfer etc. impugned/mentioned in the said IAs are a sequel of the three orders dated 23rd October, 2018 which were specifically impugned in the writ petitions. As we have answered the writ petitions in the manner indicated above, we do not consider it necessary to examine the correctness of the further/consequential orders of transfer etc. and that too on the basis of interlocutory applications filed in pending writ petitions under Article 32 of the Constitution, which stand disposed of by the present order. However, we leave the parties with the remedy of challenging the said consequential orders in an appropriate manner and before the appropriate forum, if so required and so advised.”
According to Verma’s camp, these comments indicate that the transferred officers can approach the reinstated director for getting their transfer orders cancelled.
“These transfer orders are ‘sequel’ to the CVC order and two subsequent government orders and now all the three orders stand quashed. Despite asking him to perform only routine functions, the court has also stated that these officials can challenge “the said consequential orders in an appropriate manner and before the appropriate forum” and therefore we are of the opinion that Verma as director of the agency is the right forum to deal these orders. We will be sitting with lawyers as well to understand the judgment in the right manner,” said one CBI official who is close to Verma.
Verma didn’t respond to a phone call and a text message seeking comment. The official said the court’s view will also help other officials, including joint director AK Sharma and DIG Anish Prasad , who were transferred but didn’t approach the court.
First Published: Jan 08, 2019 23:24 IST