Govt blames Verma for CBI credibility crisis?

Last Updated 24 October 2018, 14:05 IST

A government statement on Wednesday to explain its decision to send its top-most CBI officers on leave appears to be putting the blame on CBI Director Alok Verma for the "potential loss of credibility and reputation" of the agency.

The bitter fight between Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana had prompted the government on Tuesday night to act on a Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) recommendation to "divest" them of all charges and appoint M Nageshwar Rao as interim CBI Director.

In the statement, the government said the "grave allegations of corruption” made by senior officials against each other have vitiated the "official eco-system” of the CBI while admitting that factional feud has reached its zenith. Both the officers have levelled corruption charges against each other while Asthana is facing a CBI FIR on bribery charges.

"The environment of faction feud has reached its peak in the CBI leading to a potential loss of credibility and reputation of the premier investigating agency of the government. It also vitiated the working environment of the organization which has a deep and visible impact on the overall governance," it said.

While explaining the sequence of events, the statement said that the CVC had asked Verma thrice to produce files and documents related to a complaint filed on August 24 before the Commission.


Though "various opportunities" were given to produce records, the statement quoted the CVC as saying that Verma "has not been cooperating in making available records/files sought by the Commission relating to serious allegations".

"The CVC has also observed that the Director, CBI has been non-cooperative with the Commission, non-compliant with the requirements/directions of the Commission and has created wilful obstructions in the functioning of the Commission which is a Constitutional body," the statement said.

While the statement makes comments about Verma, it is silent on Asthana, who is dubbed to be a "blue-eyed boy" of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah. The government was keen on appointing Asthana as then CBI Director Anil Sinha's successor and had even transferred a senior officer out of the agency, which was alleged by a section as paving the way for the Gujarat cadre officer.

The statement said the government "carefully examined and evaluated the material made available to it, and being satisfied that an extraordinary and unprecedented situation has arisen".

It was in the "interest of equality, fair play and principles of natural justice" decided to divest Verma and Asthana of their "functions, power, duty and supervisory role" in any manner in the CBI.

"This has been done as an interim measure and will subsist till the CVC concludes its inquiry into all issues which have given rise to the present extraordinary and unprecedented situation and till the CVC and/or Government of India takes an appropriate decision in accordance with the law as regards to the measures to be adopted as a consequence thereof," it added.

(Published 24 October 2018, 10:42 IST)

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