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CBI Director Alok Verma resumes office, PM-led panel to meet at night to decide on his fate

CBI Director Alok Verma resumes office, PM-led panel to meet at night to decide on his fate
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New Delhi: A selection committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to meet Wednesday night to decide on the fate of CBI Director Alok Verma, reinstated by a Supreme Court order after he was sent on forced leave by the government, officials said Wednesday.

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

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.

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge are among the members of the panel, the officials said.

A day after the Supreme Court reinstated Alok Verma as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Director with limited powers, he resumed office on Wednesday.

The Modi government had in October, 2018 sent Verma and Asthana on forced leave.

Verma, who was sent on forced leave on the intervening night of October 23-24, returned to work after almost two-and-a-half months.

He left from his residence in central Delhi's Janpath area at around 10.10 a.m and reached the agency's headquarters in Lodhi Road area 25 minutes later. He was received by M. Nageswara Rao, who was appointed to look after Verma's duties and functions.

Verma, a 1979-batch IPS officer of Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram and Union Territories (AGMUT) cadre, was Delhi's Police Commissioner before his appointment as CBI Director on February 1, 2017. His tenure ends on January 31.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court reinstated Verma as the agency chief by setting aside the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and the Centre's decision to divest him of his powers to function as its head but with a caveat that he will not take any policy decision till a high-level committee goes into the issue afresh.

Disposing of a petition filed by Verma and an NGO, Common Cause, a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K.M. Joseph said Verma would "cease and desist" from taking any policy decisions till the issue of denuding of his powers was decided by the High Power Committee (HPC) comprising the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition and the Chief Justice.

While reinstating Verma, the top court also junked the Centre's order appointing Rao as the interim Director.

The judgement climaxes a six-month long battle between Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana, who both levelled corruption allegations against each other. In October, matters came to a head when Verma lodged an FIR against Asthana on a complaint by one Satish Sana Babu, the alleged middleman in meat exporter Moin Qureshi's case.

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