CBI vs CBI: No end in sight to agency troubles

CBI vs CBI: No end in sight to agency troubles

Former CBI chief Alok Verma resigns from service

Verma, a 1979-batch IPS officer from AGMUT cadre, was transferred from the position of CBI Director to Director General, Fire Service, Civil Defence and Home Guards under the home ministry on Thursday.

A day after Narendra Modi government sacked him as CBI Director, senior IPS officer Alok Verma on Friday asked government to consider him as superannuated with immediate effect, with a lament that "natural justice was scuttled" in his case and called for a "collective introspection".

In his letter to the government, he pointed fingers at the way the Selection Committee for the CBI director, which included Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Supreme Court judge Justice A K Sikri, chose to transfer him from the CBI saying "the entire process was turned upside down" to remove him from the post.

Verma said the government's decision made on Thursday would "not just be a reflection” on his functioning but “will become a testimony” on how the CBI as an institution will be treated through the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), who is “appointed by the majority members of the ruling” government.

His letter to the government came within 24 hours of the government decision, which came on the recommendation made by a high-powered panel led by Prime Minister Modi in a 2-1 majority vote, to shunt him out of the CBI and transfer him to Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guards as its director general, citing that his continuance in the CBI is untenable.

READ: 'Natural justice was scuttled', says Alok Verma in resignation letter

While Modi and Justice Sikri supported the move to remove him, third member in the panel Congress Leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge dissented saying that a thorough probe is needed about the way he was sent on leave on Oct. 23 last year and the involvement of the Prime Minister's Office and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval in this. Kharge also said that there was a need for an additional probe into the allegations against Verma.

Verma's decision also came on a day that CBI Additional Director Rakesh Asthana faced a setback with the Delhi High Court refusing to quash the FIR lodged against him on bribery allegations. He also got a shot in the arm as the court rejected Asthana's charge that the FIR was registered with malafide intentions. Verma had ordered the registration of the FIR on Oct. 15, which precipitated the factional fighting within the agency.

In his letter, Verma said the Selection Committee for the CBI director did not provide him an opportunity to explain his position on the CVC report, which spoke about evidence of his misconduct.

"Natural justice was scuttled and the entire process was turned upside down in ensuring that the undersigned is removed from the post of the Director of CBI. The Selection Committee did not consider the fact that the entire CVC report is premised on charges alluded by a complainant who is presently under investigation by the CBI," Verma said without naming Asthana.

He said that he had actually superannuated on 31 July, 2017 and was only serving as CBI director till Jan. 31 as the same was a fixed tenure role. He said that he has been transferred but he has already crossed the superannuation age for a director general and wanted the government to consider Friday as the day he superannuated.

Verma and Asthana were sent on leave on Oct. 23 last year after the factional fighting within the CBI peaked with the former registering a corruption case against the latter. Verma had also earlier opposed the move to promote Asthana.

The Modi-led committee had felt that Verma could not continue at the CBI following the CVC report, which claimed that some of the allegations against Verma should be further probed while some others were substantiated. Countering the CVC charges, Kharge told the high-level Selection Committee that six of the allegations were false, four needed further investigations, and four had circumstantial evidence and were "unflattering" to Verma.