Alok Verma in and out as CBI director in 48 hours
Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge raised objections against sacking the CBI chief.
Verma has been removed from the high-profile post on charges of corruption and dereliction of duty.
PM Narendra Modi and Justice AK Sikri — the nominee of the Chief Justice of India on the panel — held that the CVC report had provided sufficient grounds for his removal, including evidence to initiate a criminal investigation. While the leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge dissented on the decision, he signed the minutes of the proceedings.
Based on the panel’s recommendation, the PM-headed Appointments Committee of the Cabinet immediately issued orders to transfer Verma as director-general fire services, civil defence and home guards. Late on Thursday evening, CBI additional director M Nageswara Rao was appointed the officiating director of the agency.
ET has learnt the panel was of the view that given the contents of the CVC report, a detailed criminal investigation against Verma was “necessary”. The panel, however, observed that it could not order a probe as this did not fall within its remit.
Further, the committee took the view that Verma, as the head of CBI, did not function “with the integrity expected of him”, sources added.
In the Moin Qureshi case, sources told ET the CVC had found evidence of influencing the investigation, including allegedly taking a bribe of Rs 2 crore. It was in this case that the CVC is said to have categorically suggested a criminal investigation.
Besides, sources said, the CVC report said Verma deliberately removed the name of a senior official from the FIR in the IRCTC case. There is also mention of “wilful non-production” and “fabrication” of records, added a source.
The committee also took note of Verma’s attempts to induct officers of “doubtful integrity” into the agency.
CBI to initiate preliminary enquiry
CBI is likely to initiate a preliminary enquiry shortly on the recommendations of the CVC report. Of the 10 allegations against Verma, the CVC has recommended further probe in four instances, said people with direct knowledge of the matter.
On the demand that Verma should be heard by the panel, the majority view was that he had received enough chance, including an opportunity to present his case before the CVC in the presence of Justice AK Patnaik. Justice Patnaik, a retired judge of the Supreme Court, had been asked by the apex court to supervise the CVC inquiry into the allegations against Verma, made by his deputy Rakesh Asthana.
Kharge is said to have questioned the credibility of the “allegations in the CVC report” against the CBI chief by arguing that the anti-corruption watchdog itself was in the dock after the apex court reinstated Verma on Tuesday by rejecting the CVC’s stand.
Congress had earlier termed Verma’s removal as a “panic reaction of the PM who is worried about the skeletons tumbling out”. Party president Rahul Gandhi has been claiming that the PM is fearful of Verma starting an investigation into the Rafale scam.
On January 8, the Supreme Court had overruled the Centre’s decision to send Verma on leave last October. The SC bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said the government should have placed the matter before the selection committee for consideration. The court said this should be done now, within ten days of the judgement.
Verma took over as the CBI director on Wednesday morning. Within hours, he revoked the transfer orders of officers who had been moved out after his ouster. The government had called a meeting of the selection committee on Wednesday, which remained inconclusive, necessitating another meeting on Thursday evening.