The government had decided to remove former agency director Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana amidst an unprecedented tussle between the two.
New Delhi: The Prime Minister-led Appointments Committee of the Cabinet on Friday “curtailed the tenure” of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Additional Director M Nageswara Rao and transferred him to the Home Ministry as Director General Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guard.
An official order said that Rao, a 1986-batch IPS officer from Odisha cadre, has been appointed Director General of Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guard by “temporarily downgrading the post” to the level of additional director general.
The Directorate of Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guard is considered a low profile organisation as compared to the CBI and is often attached with National Disaster Response Force.
“Upon the curtailment of tenure of M Nageswara Rao IPS (OD: 1986), Additional Director, CBI by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet and placing of his services with the Ministry of Home Affairs, the competent authority has approved his appointment as Director General, Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guard by temporarily downgrading to the level of Additional Director General (level-15 of Pay Matrix), for a combined tenure upto his superannuation on July 31, 2020 or until further orders, whichever is earlier,” it said.
The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet comprises Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.
Earlier, the Centre had also transferred former CBI chief Alok Verma to the organisation, but he had refused to take charge. Rao was trusted twice by the government to take the reins of the agency when it had removed the then agency chief, Verma, and his deputy Rakesh Asthana after their spat became public. Both had accused each other of corruption.
In a late-night order on October 23 last year, the government had divested Verma and his bete noire Asthana of their powers. The government had handed over the charge of the agency to Rao, then joint director, who had reached there late in the night to take over.
Immediately after taking over, Rao had effected massive transfers in the agency, some of which were challenged by the officers in the Supreme Court. He served as the interim chief of the agency till January 8 this year. He again got a chance to head the agency on January 10 after Verma, reinstated by the Supreme Court, was transferred out by the government as DG Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guard within a couple of days.
Rao kept the charge till the appointment of Rishi Kumar Shukla, a 1983-batch IPS officer from Madhya Pradesh cadre, as a new CBI chief on February 2 this year.
During his second stint as interim chief, the CBI attempted controversial searches at the residence of then Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar which triggered a political storm between the West Bengal government and the Centre.
Rao had been monitoring the probe on Ponzi scam in West Bengal, sources said.
Officials are tight-lipped about the sudden order from the Centre to curtail his tenure.