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PM-led panel to decide on Verma's fate; CJI nominates Justice Sikri

January 09, 2019 16:31 IST

A selection committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to meet on Wednesday night to decide on the fate of Central Bureau of Investigation Director Alok Verma, reinstated by a Supreme Court order after he was sent on forced leave by the government, officials said on Wednesday.

The meeting is scheduled to be held at the prime minister's residence at Lok Kalyan Marg, they said.

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has nominated Justice A K Sikri, the senior most judge of the Supreme Court after him, to be part of the high-powered selection committee.

 

The apex court sources said that Justice Sikri will be a part of the committee also comprising senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge.

The selection committee comprises the Prime Minister, the CJI and the leader of the single largest opposition party.

Since the CJI was a part of the bench and author of the Tuesday's verdict which reinstated Verma as the CBI Director, he opted himself out of the panel's meeting which was ordered to be convened within a week.

The apex court had Tuesday reinstated Verma as the CBI director. It quashed the government's unprecedented 'overnight' order over two months ago, stripping him of his powers and sending him on leave after he and his deputy Rakesh Asthana traded corruption charges sparking a bitter feud.

The court, while reinstating Verma, however, made it clear that he will desist from taking any major policy decision till a high-powered committee considers the issue of 'divestment of power and authority'.

Verma's two-year tenure as CBI director ends on January 31.

However, the sword 'of divestment of power and authority' of Verma is still hanging on his head as the court had said it was 'still open' for the high-powered committee, which selects the CBI chief, to consider the matter within a week since the CVC is probing the charges of corruption against him.

In pursuance of the court's directive, authorities have decided to convene the meeting of the selection panel on Wednesday.

The top court, in its verdict, had also made it clear that on reinstatement, Verma will cease and desist from taking any major policy decisions till the committee's decision.

It had set aside the October 23, 2018 orders of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) divesting Verma of his powers and asking CBI's Joint Director M Nageshwar Rao to look after the duties and functions of the agency's Director.

The entire issue of Verma revolved around his feud with CBI's special director Rakesh Asthana as both of them have levelled charges of corruption against each other.

While Verma had moved the apex court against the government's orders, Asthana has not sought any relief from the top court but has moved the Delhi High Court for quashing of FIR against him in a corruption case.

Like Verma, Asthana was also divested of his powers and was send on leave by the government.

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