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Alok Verma resumed work on Wednesday as the CBI Director, 77 days after the Narendra Modi government sent him on forced leave after the Supreme Court yesterday set aside the centre’s mid night order of October 23.

He was received by M Nageswara Rao, who had been appointed interim chief in his place. Verma’s 10th floor office at the CBI headquarters had been sealed after he was sent on compulsory leave. While restoring him, the apex Court had said yesterday that he cannot take “major policy decision” until a high-powered select committee comprising the Prime Minister, the Leader of Opposition and the Supreme Court Justice AK Sikri meet and decide on his status. Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi has informed the government that he was stepping aside from the that has to decide whether the complaints against the investigation agency’s boss warrant his dismissal.The committee has to give its report within a week.

Verma had challenged the government’s October 23 order arguing that the CBI chief has a fixed two-year term and can be removed only by the high-powered committee.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 between them. Verma’s term ends on January 31.

In sending Verma on leave, the government overlooked the immunity given to the CBI director by the Supreme Court ensuring a two-year minimum tenure to protect the incumbent from any political interference. The government tried to justify its decision, saying it became necessary amid an unprecedented feud between the two senior-most officials of the agency who had levelled charges of corruption on each other, an argument rejected by the apex court Tuesday.

–India Legal Bureau

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