New Delhi: A high-powered committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday removed Alok Verma as the CBI director in a 2:1 decision. The decision came a day after the Supreme Court reversed the Centre’s decision to transfer Verma.
Hinting at an underlying ‘groupism’ within the investigating agency, A P Singh, former CBI director said the institution has suffered a big blow to its image. “The entire spat has definitely brought down the integrity of CBI. More than that, there is a perception that there is groupism going on in the CBI. Two groups are fighting against each other, making allegations against each other,” he said.
“The new chief will also have to sort out this image. There are enough competent officers who have worked in the CBI and whoever is chosen will do a great job,” added the ex-CBI chief.
Verma is possibly the first chief in the history of the agency to face such action. His service tenure ends on January 31 and he has now been given the charge of DG Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guards.
There were eight counts of charges against him in the CVC report presented before the committee, which also comprised leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and Justice A K Sikri, appointed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi as his nominee.
Sources told News18 that PM Modi and Justice AK Sikri found his continuance detrimental to institutional integrity. Kharge, said sources, vehemently opposed the move to sack Verma. Kharge wanted the decision to be put in abeyance, but the other two members decided against it.
Singh said the committee did not find criminal misconduct against him and it was simply misconduct which required a disciplinary action. “Now the question is, what view will the CVC take and what will it further recommend?” he said.
Kharge, while opposing the decision, questioned the reliability of the charges unless they are put through an inspection committee. A dissenting Kharge, sources added, also questioned the CVC report.
The Congress took to Twitter to express its disagreement with the decision. “,” tweeted Congress.
By removing #AlokVerma from his position without giving him the chance to present his case, PM Modi has shown once again that he’s too afraid of an investigation, either by an independent CBI director or by Parliament via JPC.
— Congress (@INCIndia) January 10, 2019
“I don’t buy the argument that this case’s timing has anything to do with the elections and Rafale. According to me, this was all carried out as per protocol,” said the ex-CBI director.
Verma, who resumed office on Wednesday, had revoked most of the transfers done by M Nageshwar Rao, who was appointed as the interim CBI chief in his absence, signalling that he was ready for a showdown with the Centre.
While reinstating Verma, the Supreme Court had made it clear that he will desist from taking any major policy decision till a high-powered committee considers the issue of “divestment of power and authority”.
“Now we can say that due process has been followed. It has gone before the high-powered committee which has taken a decision. The committee was supposed to include the chief justice, but had his nominee. So I don’t think there is anything particularly to comment on,” said Singh.
He added, “The Supreme Court in this case has given independence to the institution that was formed. It said that the government cannot remove the CBI director. If you insulate the director of CBI, you are basically insulating all of the CBI. The SC never said that it has looked into the report prepared by the CVC. It said that this will go to the committee.”
The top court had asked the government to convene the meeting within a week of its order. It had quashed the government’s unprecedented “overnight” order issued in October last year, stripping Verma of his powers and sending him on leave after he and his deputy traded corruption charges, sparking a bitter feud.
On his interaction with Verma, Singh said, “I have worked with Mr Verma. Apart from this I have never heard of any such incident with him. Before the current situation emerged there was no problem with his image. However, I did not know him personally.”
Former CBI Director Hints at Groupism Within Agency, Says New Chief Will Have to Rebuild Image – News18