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25/10/2018 9:33 AM IST | Updated 25/10/2018 9:37 AM IST

CBI Chief Ousted, Former BJP Leaders Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie Raise Rafale Alarm

CBI under pressure to protect Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Rafale Scam, the former BJP men said.

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Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie in file photos.

NEW DELHI — On a day that Alok Verma, the former Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), told the Supreme Court that his dismissal illustrated the need to protect his agency from political pressure, former Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) leaders Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie told the court there was "enormous pressure on the CBI" not to investigate Prime Minister Narendra Modi's controversial purchase of Rafale fighter aircraft.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, who filed the petition, alleged that the decision to divest Verma of his role was prompted by his intention to initiate a probe into the Rafale deal based on Bhushan, Sinha and Shourie's complaint.

"The accused are abusing the high offices they hold to intimidate and influence the officials of the CBI," the petition states, referring to Prime Minister Modi's decision to buy the Rafale aircraft without following proper procurement procedures. "It is imperative that the CBI be insulated from such adverse influence by directing a Court-monitored investigation."

The petition also asserts that the CBI's refusal to file a First Information Report in response to their complaint filed over three weeks ago as on 24.10.2018 was "arbitrary and illegal".

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"The CBI is under pressure from the powers that be to bury this matter," the petition states.

Some of these concerns find an echo in a petition filed by ousted CBI director Verma.

Verma, who was ousted after he moved against his deputy director Rakesh Asthana, told the court that Asthana "stymied" decisions that were crucial to the progress of certain investigations including "very sensitive cases" monitored by the SC.

He also states that since Asthana was found to have been "complicit" in "concocting evidence" to "impugn the reputation of" Verma, an FIR was registered against him which he challenged in the Delhi HC.

As the Supreme Court takes up each one of the two petitions in the forthcoming days, it may well be adjudicating upon the country's immediate political future.