Kharge spars with Modi, Sikri over CBI chief's ouster

Strongly opposing any move to remove Verma, sources said Kharge felt that it was not proper for the high-powered panel to take a decision against the IPS officer, who is set to retire on January 31, without hearing his side. (PTI File Photo)

Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge sparred with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Supreme Court judge A K Sikri on the sacking of CBI Director Alok Verma.

Strongly opposing any move to remove Verma, sources said Kharge felt that it was not proper for the high-powered panel to take a decision against the IPS officer, who is set to retire on January 31, without hearing his side.

However, Modi and Justice Sikri were in agreement that Verma had an opportunity to present his side before the Central Vigilance Commission and that too in the presence of former Supreme Court judge Justice A K Patnaik.

Sources said six out of the 10 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.

But the others said the mandate of the Selection Panel was limited to appointment and transfer of the CBI chief. They felt that a detailed investigation, including criminal investigation, was necessary and in such a scenario, Verma's continuation was untenable.

In a note to the panel, Kharge said there was a need to restore Verma's complete tenure that he had been wrongly deprived of by sending him on leave.

Out of the 10 charges made in the CVC report, Kharge said six of them were found to be "unsubstantiated/false" while four were "found in need of further investigation as an inconclusive finding has been arrived at".

"In the four cases where the CVC returns unflattering conclusions, even they admit that there is no proof of pecuniary benefit, no unimpeachable witnesses corroborating the story and the conclusion arrived at on the basis of circumstantial evidence," he said.

However, sources said the other members took into consideration the "extremely serious" nature of observations made by the CVC against Verma. They were 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 2 crore from a suspect. In another case, the CVC claimed that he deliberately excluded a name from the FIR in IRCTC scam while he inducted officers of doubtful integrity in the CBI. The CVC report was based on a complaint by Asthana, who is Verma's bete noire.

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Kharge spars with Modi, Sikri over CBI chief's ouster

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