- CVC accused Alok Verma of stalling raids against Lalu Yadav
- It said Mr Verma created obstacles in its probe against him
- The feud created an environment of hostility in CBI, CVC said
Hours after CBI Director Alok Verma was divested of his powers and "exiled", the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) said it recommended the step over his attempts to create obstacles in the anti-corruption watchdog's move to probe his alleged involvement in a bribery case and the "stalling" of raids against Bihar politician Lalu Yadav in a corruption scandal.
The anti-corruption watchdog also said that a feud between Mr Verma and his deputy -- Rakesh Asthana -- had created an "environment of hostility" in the investigative agency, vitiating its atmosphere.
Mr Verma was stripped of his powers late last night, days after the feud came out in the open. The CBI Director contested the directive in the Supreme Court even as doubts were expressed over the CVC's authority to take such a decision.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government acted against the CBI's top two officials to preserve its institutional integrity. However, Mr Verma maintains that he cannot be removed from office because he has a mandated two-year term that ends in December.
According to the CVC, it had become untenable for Mr Verma to remain the CBI Director after he refused to cooperate in its attempts to probe charges that he took bribes in a case involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi. The anti-corruption watchdog also accused the official of creating "obstacles" in its attempts to probe charges that he tried to stall a CBI investigation against Mr Yadav in the Railways' hotels-for-land scam.
The agency responded by terming the CBI Special Director's claim as "baseless and frivolous".
The CVC said it had asked the CBI for details of the charges against Mr Verma and Mr Asthana on 11 occasions, but the agency kept asking for more time. It also charged Mr Verma of refusing to accept its request for a meeting, and said this amounted to "wilful obstruction" of its functioning.
The anti-corruption watchdog rejected claims by Opposition leaders that it does not have the power to recommend Mr Verma's removal or appoint a new director. The CBI Act gives the CVC powers of superintendence over the CBI, keeping in mind the situation and the Supreme Court's interpretation of "superintendendence", it said.