Written byShiladitya Ray ·
However, Verma will not be able to take any major policy decision till such time a high-powered selection committee comprising the Prime Minister, the Leader of Opposition and the Chief Justice of India decides his fate.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court, while hearing a plea by Verma, had set aside a Central government order dated October 23 that had divested Verma of his powers.
The apex court's quashing of the government order came on the grounds that the aforementioned selection committee had not been consulted before Verma's removal was initiated.
The selection committee now has a week to decide Verma's fate.
Sources familiar with the development told HT that one of Verma's first moves now would be to bring back officials who had been transferred under Interim Director M Nageswara Rao.
When Rao took the post on October 24, he had transferred 13 officials including deputy inspector general (DIG) MK Sinha and deputy superintendent of police (DSP) AK Bassi, both of whom were investigating corruption charges against CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana.
Earlier, the Center had told the SC that it was forced to intervene and remove both Verma and Asthana as their internal feud was causing disrepute to the investigative agency.
Explaining the move, Attorney General KK Venugopal had said that the "main aim" of the government was to ensure that the CBI, a "premier institution", had the confidence of the public.
"Government of India was watching with amazement as to what the top officers [Verma and Asthana] were doing, they were fighting like cats," the Attorney General had told the Supreme Court during one hearing.
The cracks in the CBI command started to show in October 2017 when Director Alok Verma objected to the appointment of Asthana as second-in-command, alleging corruption on Asthana's part in connection to the Sterling Biotech case.
However, the CVC, which supervises the CBI's functioning, cleared Asthana's appointment.
In October 2018, the CBI leveled bribery charges against Asthana, while Asthana accused Verma of corruption.
Verma had initially alleged that Asthana had been paid Rs. 3.88cr in connection with the Sterling Biotech case.
While filing charges against Asthana, the CBI then alleged that Rs. 3cr had been paid to the Special Director as bribes.
Asthana, on his part, complained to the Cabinet Secretary, listing over a dozen charges against Verma, including charges of bribery in the Moin Qureshi case.
With the feud escalating, the Center, in an unprecedented move, removed Verma and Asthana from duty and sent them on leave on the night of October 23.
The following day, Verma challenged his removal at the Supreme Court, which sent notices to both the Central government and the CVC.
Another accused in the Asthana bribery case, CBI DSP Devender Kumar, was arrested.
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