New Delhi, Jan 17 (IBNS): Just week after the removal of Alok Verma as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) chief, now Rakesh Asthana has been moved out of the probe agency, media reports said on Thursday.
While Verma was supposed to retire on Jan 31, the termination of Asthana's tenure came years ahead of time.
Several other members of Verma's team, including AK Sharma and Manish Sinha, have also been removed.
NDTV quoting sources reported: "The churn is meant to clear the decks for the appointment of a new chief."
A special panel led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is supposed to select the new CBI boss at a meeting on Jan 24.
Earlier, Verma resigned, three weeks before retirement, refusing to take charge as chief of fire services while the Delhi High Court rejected the plea of Asthana to dismiss the bribery case against him and vacated the interim protection.
Verma's resignation came after a high-powered panel transferred him to the Fire Services as Director General, after deciding that as CBI chief, he had "not acted with the integrity expected of him". His transfer came only two days after the Supreme Court reinstated him as CBI chief.
In October, he had been sent on forced leave by the government in a midnight move in which officers of his team were transferred and an interim director took over. Verma challenged the decision in the Supreme Court,
Verma was to retire on January 31. "Natural justice was scuttled and the entire process was turned upside down in ensuring that the undersigned is removed from the post of the Director," he had said in a statement as he finally quit.
In another development that ran simultaneously,the Delhi High Court rejected CBI number 2 Rakesh Asthana's plea for dismissal of the bribery case against him.
The High Court also vacated the interim protection against arrest earlier granted in favour of Asthana, Special Director of the Central agency, saying that the case against him will continue. The CBI has been told to complete investigation in the case against Asthana and others within 10 weeks.
Verma was accused of corruption by Rakesh Asthana in October, when the two officers traded charges in an unprecedented internal feud within the country's premier investigating agency that came open in public.
Asthana had told the court he was maliciously harassed and there was no evidence against him and the bribery case is a backlash to complaints of criminal misconduct against Alok Verma.
As the government sent both on immediate leave and appointed an interim chief, Verma approached the Supreme Court, which reinstated him, but with curtailed power.