New Delhi: Alok Verma was removed as the chief of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday evening by a committee led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, just two days after he was reinstated by the Supreme Court.
There were eight charges against Verma in the CVC report presented before the committee. The committee said he “had not acted with the integrity expected of him” and ousted him on charges of corruption and dereliction of duty. Verma lost his job only weeks before his retirement on January 31.
PM Modi and Justice AK Sikri represented Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who had recused himself from the panel, and favoured Verma’s removal. Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, representing the opposition, put up a dissenting note stating that there was “lack of substantial findings against Alok Verma in the CVC report and that he should be allowed an unfettered run as the CBI director”.
About his removal from the CBI, Verma, a 1979-batch AGMUT cadre IPS officer, said that he was transferred on the basis of false, unsubstantiated and frivolous allegations made by only one person, who was trying to harm him.
India Today reported that sources claimed that Kharge indulged in impropriety by not recusing from the meeting despite being a petitioner in the court with a vested legal interest.
The BJP termed the verdict of the committee as vindication of the October move by the government to send Verma on leave.
Verma has been posted as director general, fire and services, civil defence and home guards for the residual period of his present term which ends on January 31. Now, M Nageshwar Rao is retaining the post till the appointment of a new director.
The government was alarmed as Verma took charge of the agency after 75 days reversing all transfers carried out after his ouster. He also reinstated the officers who were heading the probe against CBI’s number 2 officer Rakesh Asthana. The Centre feared that Verma may move ahead with search warrants against Asthana and even get him arrested.
The Congress faced a second major setback in political charge against the PM after the Supreme Court’s order on the Rafale deal. Kharge had claimed at a TV new channel that the “proceedings of the meeting were premeditated”.
Railways minister and BJP supporter Piyush Goyal tweeted: “Indeed, Mr Mallikarjun Kharge is a man of amazing consistency. When Alok Verma was appointed CBI chief by the selection committee, he dissented. Now, when Alok Verma has been removed by the same selection committee, he has dissented.”
So far, a CBI director has been removed, re-instated and then again removed within three months. But the challenge ahead for the Centre is that the new CBI director can be only be appointed by the high-powered selection committee with Kharge being a key member.