CBI infight: Verma counters graft charges before CVC panel

New Delhi: CBI chief Alok Verma on Friday faced a panel headed by Central Vigilance Commissioner K V Chowdary – where he countered for the second consecutive day the corruption charges levelled against him by Special Director Rakesh Asthana.

Verma has reportedly given point-wise refusal to all the allegations levelled by Asthana before the panel comprising Vigilance Commissioners T M Bhasin and Sharad Kumar.

Justice A K Patnaik, a retired Supreme Court judge, who has been asked by the apex court to supervise the CVC inquiry was also present, the officials said. Verma came to the CVC office early Friday morning and stayed there for about an hour, they said. He did not speak to the media waiting outside the CVC office.

As per reports, Asthana followed suit and visited Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) office at around 4.45 PM but could not get an audience. He stayed there for around 10 minutes, but could not meet any senior official as there was no scheduled appointment.

According to an NDTV report, Rakesh Asthana’s defence has stated that Asthana was in London in December 2017 when the alleged bribery incident with businessman Satish Sana, involving meat exporter Moin Quereshi, seems to have taken place.

The Supreme Court had on October 26 asked the Central Vigilance Commission to complete within two weeks its inquiry into the allegations against Verma levelled by Asthana. The two-week time limit ends on Sunday and the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the matter on Monday.

Feuding officers Verma and Asthana have been sent on leave by the government. Besides Verma, Asthana also had on Thursday met Chowdary.

Asthana, who also met Vigilance Commissioner Sharad Kumar on Thursday, is understood to have given documentary evidence in support of his charges levelled against Verma, the officials said.

On Friday, the CBI Special Director again visited the CVC office. “He could not meet Central Vigilance Commissioner Chowdary or any of the Vigilance Commissioners as they, along with other senior officials of the commission, were in a meeting,” one of the officials said, requesting anonymity.

The Commission had recently examined some CBI officials probing crucial cases which figured in Asthana’s complaint of corruption against the probe agency’s chief Verma, they said.

The officials said CBI personnel from the rank of inspector up to superintendent of police were called and their versions recorded before a senior CVC official. These officials, who had recorded their statements included those who had handled the Moin Qureshi bribery case, IRCTC scam involving former railway minister Lalu Prasad, and the cattle smuggling case in which a senior BSF officer was caught with wands of cash in Kerala.

The feud between Verma and Asthana escalated recently leading to registration of an FIR against the latter and others including Deputy Superintendent of Police Devender Kumar, who is in CBI custody in an alleged bribery case.