Hours after he was appointed as the interim chief of the Central Bureau of Investigation, M Nageswar Rao removed the entire team probing the bribery case against CBI second-in-command Rakesh Asthana, including Ajay Bassi, the investigation officer (IO), and deputy inspector general Manish Sinha.
In a past-midnight action, CBI Director Alok Verma and his deputy Asthana were divested of all duties and sent on leave.
Deputy SP Ajay Bassi has been transferred to Port Blair in “public interest” with immediate effect.
Rao, a 1986-batch Odisha cadre IPS officer, has now appointed superintendent of police Satish Dagar to probe the case.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear on October 26 the plea of Alok Verma challenging the Centre’s decision to divest him of powers and send him on leave in view of the alleged internal feud between him and Asthana.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi took note of the submissions of lawyer Gopal Shankarnarayan, appearing for Verma, that his plea needed urgent hearing.
The bench, which also comprises Justice S K Kaul and Justice K M Joseph, agreed to the submissions and said the petition would be heard on October 26.
The Delhi High Court had on Tuesday ordered the CBI to maintain status quo on the criminal proceedings initiated against Asthana, who has challenged the FIR lodged against him on bribery allegations.
The feud between Verma and Asthana escalated recently and led to registration of an FIR by the CBI against the Special Director in an alleged bribery case.
Deputy Superintendent of Police Devender Kumar was arrested by CBI in connection with the case.
A Delhi court had on Tuesday allowed CBI to quiz Kumar in custody for seven days.
Besides Asthana, the arrested DSP had also approached the Delhi High Court seeking quashing of the FIR against him.