Forced Leave For CBI Chief A Violation Of Constitution, Says Congress

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CBI Director Alok Verma and CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana were sent on leave on Tuesday night

New Delhi:

The Congress today launched another attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, enumerating the ways in which rules were broken in the government's handling of the massive, unprecedented battle in the Central Bureau of Investigation and saying it was a "violation" of Supreme Court orders and the Constitution. The premier investigating agency, the party said, comes "directly under the PM", but he has failed to act in time. The party has also written to the Prime Minister, apprising him of all their reservations.

"The actions taken on the early hours of the morning of October 24th, 2018, in transferring the Director and his entire team, amount to a grave violation of the law, the Supreme Court's clear directions on the subject and the Constitution of India," the letter read.

"The PM should have acted swiftly, and by taking everyone on board. How was he not aware of what was going on? And if he knew, why was he silent about it?" senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge at a press conference in Delhi today.

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The CBI chief, Mr Kharge said, cannot be removed as he has fixed tenure and it is illegal to do so without approval of the committee which selected him. No one — neither you nor the CVC — enjoy the requisite authority to interfere with the terms of service vested in the Director," Mr Kharge's said in his letter, quoting from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act.

"The leader of the opposition has to be informed, but that wasn't done either…. Maybe they were having sleepless nights over the Rafale issue," said Mr Kharge, in a dig at what the party says is one of the key reasons for the removal of CBI chief Alok Verma, who had been at loggerheads for months with his number 2, Rakesh Asthana.

Late on Tuesday evening, the government has sent both officers on leave – capping the row that over the last days, involved the officers accusing each other of bribery and Mr Asthana taking the agency to court over a First Information Report filed against him.

This morning, four men were also detained by the police for keeping watch on CBI chief Alok Verma's house. They turned out to be personnel from the Intelligence Bureau.

Top officials of the Intelligence Bureau were upset with the way their four officials, detained outside Alok Verma's house, were manhandled by the police, sources said.

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