New Delhi: The turmoil in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) worsened on Monday with a senior official challenging his transfer in the Supreme Court.

Deputy inspector general Manish Kumar Sinha was one of the officers investigating the bribery charges against special director Rakesh Asthana. He was transferred to Nagpur on 24 October.

“The transfer was ‘arbitrary, motivated and mala fide’, and was made solely with the purpose and intent to victimise the officer as the investigation revealed cogent evidence against certain powerful persons," Sinha stated in his plea.

He added that as an investigating officer, he was discharging his duties and as the events unfolded there seems to be a deliberate attempt to change the course of investigation, raising reasonable apprehensions of exonerating the accused despite existing evidence.

Urgent hearing of the plea was, however, denied by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who said it would be taken up on another day.

Later in the day, CBI director Alok Verma submitted his reply to the inquiry report by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) on the corruption allegations against him. The reply was submitted in a sealed cover and its contents are likely to form part of the court hearing on Tuesday.

After taking on record CVC’s inquiry report at the last hearing, Gogoi had said that the findings of the report on Verma ranged from being “very complimentary" and “not so complimentary" to “not at all complimentary" and those “requiring investigation".

On 26 October, the top court had placed the CVC’s inquiry into the corruption allegations against Verma under the supervision of retired Supreme Court judge A.K. Patnaik and told the commission to complete its inquiry in two weeks.

Verma and Rakesh Asthana were divested of their powers and sent on leave on 24 October, pending the probe. M. Nageswara Rao, who was a joint director of the CBI, was appointed the new interim chief.

The court barred Rao from taking any policy or major decision, ordering him to perform only routine tasks essential to keep the CBI functioning.

Rao was asked to submit a list of all the decisions he had taken since 23 October in a sealed cover, including decisions regarding transfers and change of investigating officers.

The court is seized of a petition by Prashant Bhushan-led non-government organization, Common Cause, which has challenged the order sending the CBI director on leave and divesting him of all powers.

The court also issued notices to the Centre on both petitions.

Verma, in his plea, said the Centre’s action was “patently illegal" and contended that it was in violation of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, which provided the CBI director a two-year term.

The case will be heard next on Tuesday.

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