Why PM Modi-Led Selection Panel Removed Alok Verma As CBI Chief

Sources say the panel decided against CBI chief Alok Verma on the basis of the findings of the CVC.

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Why PM Modi-Led Selection Panel Removed Alok Verma As CBI Chief

Shortly after he was removed as CBI chief, Alok Verma was appointed Director General, Fire Service


New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. Alok Verma was removed just two days after he was reinstated as CBI chief
  2. The panel decision was based on the CVC report: Sources
  3. Of the 10 charges, 3 were substantiated, while in 6 cases they weren't

CBI chief Alok Verma, just two days after he was reinstated by the Supreme Court, has been shunted out again, this time by a high-level selection committee, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The three-member committee also had Congress's Mallikarjun Kharge and Supreme Court judge, Justice AK Sikri. Justice Sikri, who joined the panel after Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi dropped out since he was on the bench that reinstated Mr Verma, voted in favour of removing the CBI chief. Mr Kharge opposed the decision and put up a dissent note. 

The note accessed by NDTV, which has a summary of the findings of the Central Vigilance Commission, shows of the 10 allegations against Mr Verma, three were substantiated, while in six cases they weren't. Even the ones that were shown to be substantiated vary in their levels of credibility, according to the CVC finding. On the main allegation that Mr Verma took Rs 2 crore from a businessman being investigated by the CBI, the findings are that there is "no evidence of payment of bribe and further investigation is required for verifying circumstantial evidence."

The allegation of exclusion of a suspect from being named as an accused in a First Information Report in the IRCTC case was "substantiated and amounts to serious misconduct and warrants disciplinary and other actions," the note reads. 

One allegation - of failure to take action in gold smuggling case at the Delhi airport - was partially substantiated.

Sources say the panel decided against Mr Verma on the basis of the findings of the CVC.

"The panel was of the view that being the head of a very sensitive organisation, Mr Verma was not functioning with the integrity expected of him," sources said.

"In the IRCTC case, the CVC felt that it can be reasonably concluded that Mr Verma deliberately excluded a name from the FIR, for reasons best known to him," sources said.

Sources say the panel felt that as a detailed investigation was necessary, including criminal investigation in some cases, Alok Verma continuing as CBI chief was not desirable, and he should be transferred.
However Mr Kharge in his note, totally disagreed. He said that an inquiry into the conclusions by the CVC should continue further but in parallel, he should not be denied his tenure. Not only did he say should his full powers be restored, Mr Kharge recommended "an additional 77 day extension" to make up for the days he lost on forced leave. Apart from that, Mr Kharge also demanded an inquiry into the events of the night of October 23-24 when Mr Verma was removed for the first time. He said it would reveal the government's conspiracy to remove the CBI director.

Shunted from the top CBI post, Mr Verma has been appointed Director General, Fire Service. His tenure as CBI chief was to end on January 31.

The accusations against Mr Verma was levelled by his number 2, Rakesh Asthana, in October, when the two officers traded corruption charges in an unprecedented public demonstration of rift within the country's premier investigating agency.

As the government sent Mr Verma and Rakesh Asthana on immediate leave and appointed an interim chief in a midnight swoop, the officer approached the Supreme Court.

The top court's order on Tuesday reinstating him is seen as a major loss of face for the government, which is under opposition attack over allegations of using the investigating agency as a tool against political rivals.

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