CJI-led bench to hear plea of exiled CBI chief today

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A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked retired apex court Judge Justice A K Patnaik to supervise the inquiry and submit the report in a sealed cover.

Until a day earlier, the government had not specified how long it would take the CVC to conduct its probe, but the Supreme Court has now specified a time limit of two weeks. Decisions taken by him since October 23 till date should not be implemented, it said.

Patnaik, as chief justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court, was also a member of "In-House committee" of the apex court that probed allegations against Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court. The CVC has also said that for the time being, no monitoring by anyone else should be allowed.

This decision by the Central government to send Verma on leave came in the wake of the internal crisis that has plagued the CBI after it registered an FIR against its joint Director Rakesh Asthana.

"We make it clear that entrustment of supervision of on-going inquiry by the CVC to a former judge of this court is a one-time exception that has been felt necessary by this court in the peculiar facts of this case and should not be understood to be casting any reflection on any authority of the government of India", the order stated.

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Mr Gandhi then got on to a truck in front of police barricades near the CBI headquarters in the CGO complex to prevent the protestors from reaching the building.

Senior Advocate Fali Nariman is appearing for Alok Verma, while Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave will represent Common Cause. Asthana is said to have withstood enormous political pressures during the fodder scam probe. He said only the PM, chief justice of India and the leader of opposition can appoint and remove the CBI director.

He said that recent developments "have eroded the credibility of the Central Bureau of Investigation" and that the "CVC, in the interest of fairness, had passed an order that till investigation or inquiry is pending against the two top officers of the CBI, they must step aside and recuse themselves from the CBI's function".

In his petition Verma said "CBI´s autonomy was being compromised as certain investigations into high functionaries do not take the direction that may be desirable to the government". Verma states in the petition that Rakesh Asthana had "stymied" several decisions which were crucial to the investigation of these cases.

Nariman referred to the CVC and Centre's orders divesting Verma of his duty.

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