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Published On: Thu, Jan 10th, 2019

Alok Verma sacked: Removed CBI boss may face CBI probe

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CBI Chief Alok Verma leavs the Home Ministry after a meeting in New Delhi on tuesday. The CBI chief works from the North Block every Tuesdays and Thursdays. Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal 231018

NEW DELHI : Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI )  chief Alok Verma was sacked by a high-level selection committee on Thursday. Verma has been appointed DG, Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guards. Verma, reinstated as chief of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) by the Supreme Court barely 48 hours ago, was removed this evening by a committee led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which said he “had not acted with the integrity expected of him”. Mr Verma lost his high-profile job just weeks before his retirement on January 31.
The decision was two against one: PM Modi and Justice AK Sikri — representing Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi who had recused himself from the panel — favoured Mr Verma’s removal. Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, representing the opposition, put up a dissenting note.
The 2:1 decision was made after a more than two-hour long meeting of the panel, which comprises of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the leader of the largest opposition party – Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge – and Justice A.K. Sikri. Kharge opposed the move to sack Verma, but Justice Sikri and the prime minister, sources say, found his continuance detrimental to institutional integrity.

According to sources, Kharge said during the meeting that Verma should not be penalised and be given an extension of 77 days for which he was not allowed to attend the office.Also read: In a Setback for Modi Government, Supreme Court Reinstates Alok Verma as CBI ChiefThis is the second time Kharge has objected to Verma’s remoJustice Sikri replaced Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on the panel as Gogoi was a member of the Supreme Court bench that reinstated Verma as CBI director on Tuesday.

Verma has been removed from the high-profile post on charges of corruption and dereliction of duty, making him the first chief in the history of the agency to face such action, officials said. Transfer orders issued by Verma post his re-instatement are also likely to be reversed. On Wednesday, a day after the Supreme Court’s order, Verma had rejoined office and among the first orders he had issued were the rescinding of transfer orders issued by the interim director M. Nageswara Rao.

A new CBI chief will appointed over the next four-five days. As of now, Nageswara Rao has been appointed as acting director again. Verma was sent on forced leave by the government in a late-night controversial order on October 23, 2018, in the wake of a feud between him and his deputy Special Director Rakesh Asthana.
Alok Verma, on his return to work three months after being sent on leave by the government in a midnight swoop, took a series of controversial decisions; he cancelled the transfers of 10 officers and transferred five others.The PM-led panel based its decision on the report of the Central Vigilance Commission, which found evidence of him influencing investigation in the Moin Qureshi case. There was also evidence of taking of bribe of Rs. 2 crore. The CVC found evidence against Mr Verma in several other cases as well.
Mallikarjun Kharge, the dissenting member of the panel, questioned how Mr Verma could be removed without a hearing and argued that he should be restored to “ensure independence and neutrality of CBI”. Contending that the CVC report lacked “substantial findings” against Mr Verma, Mr Kharge — who had opposed his appointment in 2017 — said his tenure should be extended as he lost 77 days after being “illegally’ transferred”.
The Supreme Court had reinstated Mr Verma on Tuesday, scrapping the government’s October order sending him on compulsory leave. The court, however, said he was not make any policy decision till the PM-led committee took a call on his status. Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi dropped out of the committee and nominated Justice Sikri as he was part of the bench that restored Mr Verma.Mr Verma has been appointed the chief of Fire Services and Home Guards. For now, Nageshwar Rao will replace him at the agency. .
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.Today, the Congress tweeted, “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”.
Govt sources have claimed that Mallikarjun Kharge should have recused himself from the select committee. Why? Because it was Kharge himself, who had said that only the three-member committee was authorised to decide Alok Verma’s fate. Kharge had said this while moving Supreme Court against the government’s decision to send Verma on leave.
According to them, since Kharge was an interested party in the matter he should have recused himself.
Interestingly, Chief Justice of India, Shri Ranjan Gogoi, who was part of the bench which heard this matter, recused himself from the proceedings and nominated Justice Sikri.Interestingly, Chief Justice of India, Shri Ranjan Gogoi, who was part of the bench which heard this matter, recused himself from the proceedings and nominated Justice Sikri.(With Agency Inputs ).


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