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PM-led panel to pick new CBI chief on Jan 24

It is not known if CJI Gogoi will attend

PM-led panel to pick new CBI chief on Jan 24

NEW DELHI: A special panel led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet next week to pick the successor to Alok Verma, whose controversial removal from the top post of the premier Central Bureau of Investigation last week has created a massive political storm.

The decision comes a day after Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge wrote to PM Modi, asking him to bring critical documents related to the sacking in the public domain.

The meeting of the special panel - comprising the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of the opposition - will be held on January 24.

It is not known if Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi will attend the meeting. He had recused himself from the January 10 meeting - where the decision was taken to remove Verma from the post - as he was part of the Supreme Court bench that passed an order reinstating the officer.

Justice AK Sikri had replaced him on the committee and had cast the deciding vote that removed Verma barely 48 hours after his reinstatement. The panel's decision was based on a report by the anti-corruption watchdog Central Vigilance Commission, on allegations against Verma.

The officer, the committee said, "had not acted with the integrity expected of him".

Kharge, who put up a dissent note flagging how the main allegations against Verma were unsubstantiated, wrote to PM Modi Tuesday, asking that the government make the vigilance report public, along with the one by Justice AK Patnaik, who monitored the investigation.

The vigilance report had been submitted to the Supreme Court in a sealed cover. Kharge said even Justice Patnaik had commented on how there was no evidence of corruption against Verma and that the action of the committee was "very, very hasty".

Opposition parties are of the view that a new CBI chief should not be pushed through with a few months to go for general elections, especially since the CBI director enjoys a fixed two-year tenure. There is some talk that government may try to elevate Rakesh Asthana as CBI director.

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