Central Bureau of Investigation director Alok Verma's meeting with former Union minister Arun Shourie and lawyer Prashant Bhushan on the Rafale deal has not gone down well with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-headed Union government.
Mr Shourie and Mr Bhushan met the CBI director last Thursday to file a complaint and urge the agency to investigate the Rafale deal and offset contract. The third complainant in the matter is former finance minister Yashwant Sinha.
The Union government is upset with Mr Verma, especially given the fact that Mr Sinha and Mr Shourie, who used to be with the BJP, have now become bitter critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"It is unheard of that the CBI director personally meets complainants, especially given that they are politicians," a senior cabinet minister told NDTV.
According to the minister, the normal procedure is to handover the complaint at the CBI office reception.
"Even junior officers refuse to meet complainants. The officer may meet a complainant only when a complaint is formalised and an inquiry is initiated," the minister added.
Along with a detailed complaint under the Prevention of Corruption Act, Mr Bhushan and Mr Shourie submitted documents buttressing their argument that the deal needs to be probed.
Alleging that the offset contract for the Rafale aircraft was actually a commission to a subsidiary of Anil Ambani's Reliance group, they asked CBI director Alok Verma to take the government's permission to initiate a probe in accordance with the law.
There's another reason the government is upset with Mr Verma - his alleged tussle with CBI special director Rakesh Asthana, the second senior-most officer in the agency.
"The credibility of the agencies has suffered as they seem to have gone into the hands of rogue elements," the minister lamented, referring not just to the CBI but also the Enforcement Directorate.
In a letter to revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia, dated June 11, Enforcement Directorate joint director Rajeshwar Singh had asked a series of uncomfortable questions and accused him of "siding with scamsters". The letter was forwarded to Mr Adhia by Enforcement Directorate chief Karnal Singh.
CBI special director Rakesh Asthana and revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia are Gujarat cadre officers who are said to have been handpicked for these key positions by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Centre's unhappiness with Mr Verma, Karnal Singh and Rajeshwar Singh could also stem from this fact.
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