CBI chief Alok Verma, just two days after he was reinstated by the Supreme Court, has been shunted out again, this time by a high-level selection committee, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The three-member committee also had leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge and Supreme Court judge, Justice AK Sikri, on it. Justice Sikri, who joined the panel after Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi dropped out since he was on the bench that reinstated Mr Verma, voted in favour of removing the CBI chief. Mr Kharge dissented with the decision.
Sources say the panel decided against Mr Verma on the basis of the findings of the country’s top anti-corruption watchdog, the Central Vigilance Commission or CVC, which said certain accusations of misconduct against the CBI chief are substantiated and others need to be examined.
“The panel was of the view that being the head of a very sensitive organisation, Mr Verma was not functioning with the integrity expected of him,” sources said.
The CVC had found evidence against Alok Verma of influencing investigation in the meat exporter Moin Qureshi case, sources said, and added there was also evidence of Mr Verma taking a bribe of Rs 2 crore.
“In the IRCTC case, the CVC felt that it can be reasonably concluded that Mr Verma deliberately excluded a name from the FIR, for reasons best known to him,” sources said.
Sources say the panel felt that as a detailed investigation was necessary, including criminal investigation in some cases, Alok Verma continuing as CBI chief was not desirable, and he should be transferred.
Shortly after the meeting, Mr Verma was appointed Director General, Fire Service. His tenure as CBI chief was to end on January 31.
The accusations against Mr Verma was levelled by his number 2, Rakesh Asthana, in October, when the two officers traded corruption charges in an unprecedented public demonstration of rift within the country’s premier investigating agency.
As the government sent Mr Verma and Rakesh Asthana on immediate leave and appointed an interim chief in a midnight swoop on October 23, the officer approached the Supreme Court.
The top court’s order on Tuesday reinstating him is seen as a major loss of face for the government, which is under opposition attack over allegations of using the investigating agency as a tool against political rivals.