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CBI officer probing Asthana sent to Andamans, team disbanded

Mumbai, Oct 24: The Central Bureau of Investigation has overhauled the team probing allegations of corruption against its former Special Director Rakesh Asthana, bringing in completely new faces, officials said on Wednesday.
Changes have been effected from the investigation officer to the supervisory level, they said.
M Nageswar Rao, who took over the duties and functions of CBI director late on Tuesday night, appointed Satish Dagar as superintendent of police to probe the case, they said.
Dagar has earlier probed cases against Dera Sachcha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim.
His first supervisor will be Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Tarun Gauba, who investigated the Vyapam cases.
At the joint director-level, V Murugesan has been brought in. He will hold additional charge as joint director, Anti-Corruption-I, in the CBI headquarters.
The Supreme Court had reposed faith in Murugesan in the coal scam probe, officials said.
The previous investigating officer, Deputy SP A K Bassi, has been shunted to Port Blair in ‘public interest’ with ‘immediate effect’, they said.
Asthana had alleged in his complaint to the Central Vigilance Commission that Bassi was carrying out ‘roving inquiries’ against him on the directions of Alok Verma, the CBI director who has been divested of all powers by the government along with him.
In another order, the CBI transferred Joint Director-Policy Arun Kumar Sharma and posted him as joint director of the Multi-Disciplinary Monitoring Agency (MDMA), probing former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination case.
Senior officer, A Sai Manohar, has been transferred and posted as joint director Chandigarh zone while Amit Kumar, DIG Economic Offence-III, will hold additional charge of joint director-policy.


CBI director challenges his transfer in SC

New Delhi, October 24: Alluding to government interference in sensitive cases, CBI director Alok Verma, in a petition in Supreme Court, challenged the government order that divested him of all charges early on Wednesday, saying it was illegal and had bypassed a high-powered committee.
The bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said Verma’s plea would be taken up on October 26 after his counsel pressed for an urgent hearing on the order issued against him following an escalation of rift between the top officials at the agency over bribery charges. (Follow live updates here)
Taking note of the internal feud in the agency, the government in a 2.30am order on Wednesday divested Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana of all duties and appointed Nageshwar Rao as the interim chief.
In his petition, Verma argued that the shunting out violated law that provides for a fixed tenure of two years. He said the transfer of a CBI director has to be with the consent of the high powered committee. The order sending him on leave had bypassed the mandate of the committee.
Verma has asked for a stay of the order against him and says “the present action gives serious credence to the requirement that CBI be given independence from the DoPT, which seriously hinders the independent functioning of the agency”.
He also said that not all influence exerted by the government is explicit or in writing. “More often than not, it is tacit, and requires considerable courage to withstand it.”
He also accused Asthana of creating hurdles in decisions crucial to the progress of investigation in sensitive cases, some of them being monitored by SC and had ”concocted evidence to impugn Verma’s reputation”.
Verma also offered to furnish details of sensitive cases that led to his removal.
The CBI chief has also challenged the decision to appoint Rao as head of the probe agency.