Charges against Verma were not proved: Justice Patnaik

Charges against Verma were not proved: Justice Patnaik

 Alok Verma. PTI file photo

The removal of Alok Verma as CBI Director has raked up fresh controversy with a section demanding that a former judge's report was not considered while a high-powered panel took the decision.

Justice A K Patnaik, who supervised the CVC probe, suggested that corruption charges against Alok Verma could not be proved.

Sources said Verma had also written to Justice Patnaik claiming that Central Vigilance Commissioner K V Chowdary approached him with a plea to withdraw remarks made against CBI Additional Director Rakesh Asthana and assured him that he would not face any problem if he did so.

In more discomfort for the ruling BJP, its ally Shiv Sena described Verma's ouster as a panic reaction of the Narendra Modi government which is battling allegations over the purchase of Rafale fighter aircraft.

It also echoed Opposition claims in an editorial in party mouthpiece 'Saamna' that Verma was denied an opportunity to defend himself and pointed fingers at Modi saying, "if the prime minister can use every platform to defend himself amid allegations over the Rafale deal then why such an opportunity was not given to the ousted CBI chief?" asked Sena.

Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, who is a member of the three-member Selection Committee on CBI Director, said all documents pertaining to Verma were not placed before the panel and it included Justice Patnaik's notes to the Supreme Court. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Justice AK Sikri were the other members in the panel, which took the decision on Verma.

"Without calling a meeting, the CBI Director was removed. Even after calling a meeting, all documents were not presented before committee. Action was taken only on basis of the CVC report. It did not include Justice Patnaik’s report," Kharge said.

Kharge, who opposed the decision to sack Verma during the panel's deliberations, said he was "not in favour of anyone but wanted" that we should move as per the law. "We are not defending Alok Verma. The question is about the procedure of appointment and termination. Both sides should be heard. Only one report was seen and decision was taken," he said.

Kharge's comments came as Justice Patnaik was quoted as saying that corruption charges against Verma were not proved and the decision to sack him was taken in haste. Government sources had on Thursday night claimed that there was no need for the panel to hear Verma's side as he had got an opportunity before the CVC, which was probing him under Justice Patnaik's supervision.

The CVC report claimed that some of the allegations were substantiated and some other needed further investigation while giving clean chit to him on other charges.

"After Justice Patnaik's statement, the Prime Minister should now tell us why there was such a haste in removing Verma, who had his tenure till just January 31."

On the reported move by the CVC to seek Verma's help, sources said the ousted CBI Director claimed Chowdary went to the CBI Director's official residence on Janpath to make the request.

The CVC report, which indicted Verma, was based on Ashtana's complaint forwarded by the Cabinet Secretary last August.