Mallikarjun Kharge demanded an "independent investigation" into Alok Verma's removal (File)
Congress's Mallikarjuna Kharge, who was part of the three-member committee led by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had sent a dissenting note in the decision to shunt out Alok Verma from the top post in the CBI. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Justice AK Sikri, who was representing Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, favoured Mr Verma's removal.
Mr Verma, who was forced to go on leave after a very public trading of corruption charges with his number 2 Rakesh Asthana, was reinstated by the Supreme Court on Tuesday. The court had barred Mr Verma from taking any policy decision till the high-level committee led by the Prime Minister, took a call on his status.
At the meeting of the panel this evening, Mr Kharge — who in 2017 had opposed Mr Verma's appointment — contended that he should be restored to "ensure independence and neutrality of CBI, to restore normalcy", sources said.
Arguing that the Central Vigilance Commission report lacked "substantial findings" against him, Mr Kharge also said Mr Verma's tenure should be extended since he lost 77 days after being "illegally' transferred".
He also demanded an "independent investigation" into Mr Verma's removal from his post.
On Justice Sikri's argument that there were charges against Mr Verma, Mr Kharge interjected: "Where are the charges".
The Congress has slammed PM Modi for the decision, alleging he was afraid of a probe against him.
"By removing Alok Verma from his position without giving him the chance to present his case, PM Modi has shown once again that he's too afraid of an investigation, either by an independent CBI director or by Parliament via JPC," the Congress tweeted from its official Twitter handle.
Party chief Rahul Gandhi has claimed that Mr Verma was sent on leave by the government as he was planning to lodge a First Information Report against PM Modi over the Rafale jet deal, which, he alleges, was mired in corruption and crony capitalism.
After the court's verdict on Wednesday, Mr Gandhi said nothing would be able to save PM Modi from Rafale. "The CBI chief was removed at 1 am because he was going to start an inquiry into the Rafale deal," he said.
Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana, the CBI's top two officers, were both sent on leave in October in the middle of a bitter feud. Nageswar Rao, who took charge as an interim CBI chief at 2 am, signed off on the transfer of half-a-dozen officers on Mr Verma's team.
After being reinstated, Alok Verma cancelled the transfers of 10 officers and signed off on five transfers.
With inputs from PTI