Alok Verma removed as CBI director after PM-led meet

Alok Verma was sacked on Thursday evening after a high-powered committee chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed that the allegations levelled against him were serious enough for his removal. File photo

CBI Director Alok Verma was on Thursday removed as CBI Director within 48 hours of his reinstatement after a high-powered committee chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi recommended his removal ignoring Congress leader in the panel Mallikarjun Kharge's dissent.

Immediately after the recommendation, the Appointments Committee of Cabinet transferred Verma, who is set to retire on January 31, to Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guards as its Director General while reappointing M Nageshwar Rao as interim Director of the CBI.

 

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The panel's decision, based on a majority vote of 2-1, immediately attracted Opposition ire with the Congress terming it that the Modi government was scared of Verma that he may file a case in the Rafale scam that could reach the Prime Minister's doorsteps.

"By removing Alok Verma from his position without giving him the chance to present his case, PM Modi has shown once again that he's too afraid of an investigation, either by an independent CBI director or by Parliament via JPC," the Congress tweeted.

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The Modi-led three-member Selection Committee on CBI Director's decision came after a two-and-half-hour meeting where Kharge opposed the proposal to remove him from the post on the basis of a Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) report which the panel found serious enough for action.

Besides Modi and Kharge, the third member of the panel Supreme Court judge A K Sikri concurred with the government's line. Sikri sat in for Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi who recused as he was part of the Supreme Court bench that reinstated Verma two days ago citing procedural irregularities in sending him on leave on October 23 last year.

Additional Director Rakesh Asthana, who is considered close to Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, was also sent on leave along with him as the factional fight within the CBI reached new heights with both the officers targeting each other with corruption cases.


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Sources said the panel took into consideration the "extremely serious" nature of observations made by the CVC against Verma and it was of the view that he was not functioning with the integrity expected of him in a sensitive agency.

The CVC report suggested that Verma's conduct in Moin Qureshi case was suspect and there was prima facie case against him on the allegations that he took a bribe of Rs two crore from a suspect. In another case, the CVC claimed that he deliberately excluded a name from the FIR while he inducted officers of doubtful integrity in CBI. The CVC report was based on a complaint by Asthana, who is Verma's bete noire.

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Kharge dissented and said six out of the ten charges made in the CVC report were unsubstantiated while the rest were based on circumstantial evidence. He argued that these charges need to be investigated by the panel and Verma should be given a chance to explain his position.

However, the others in the panel were of the view that Verma had an opportunity to present his case before the CVC in presence of former Supreme Court judge Justice A K Patnaik.

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The crisis engulfed the CBI on October 15 after Verma directed registration of an FIR against Asthana and others in connection with bribery allegations while investigating a case involving controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi.

The CBI also arrested DySP Devender Kumar in the case. In August last year, Asthana had approached the CVC against Verma claiming that Verma took bribe from a Hyderabad-based businessman Satish Kumar Sana in connection with the Moin Qureshi case. However, the FIR against Asthana was also filed on the basis of a complaint filed by Sana that he was being pressurised by Asthana and others.

Sources said the CVC also submitted a report on the allegations against Verma, which the Supreme Court said were mixed in nature. Some of them were favourable to Verma while others were against him, the SC had said.

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Alok Verma removed as CBI director after PM-led meet

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