CBI vs CBI: No relief for director Alok Verma; no clean chit given and possibility of further probe exists
As reported by Firstpost on 12 November, CBI director Alok Verma may face a further probe into serious allegations levelled against him by his deputy special director Rakesh Asthana
New Delhi: As reported by Firstpost on 12 November, CBI director Alok Verma may face a further probe into serious allegations levelled against him by his deputy special director Rakesh Asthana. A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi in an order on Friday said some charges are complimentary. Some are uncomplimentary and some are extremely uncomplimentary as per the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) report. Before taking any decision on Verma's fate, the Supreme Court ordered that a copy of CVC report to be given to his counsel, so the petitioner (Verma) can file a response to the report in a sealed cover by 1 pm on Monday. Firstpost had reported that the CVC probe has not given a clean chit to Verma and had raised some questions that required a separate and detailed probe.
"Before taking any decision, we are of the view that CVC report should be served to petitioner Alok Verma. It will be open for Verma to file his response in a sealed cover," the Supreme Court said on Friday. Earlier, while sending Verma on leave on 23 October, the CVC in an eight-page note (018/DPT/013-Vig-IX) had said two allegations besides others were serious in nature, and needed an immediate probe:
1. Allegation regarding payment of Rs two crore as a bribe by Sathish Babu Sana to the director CBI to avoid further interrogation/action in the Moin Qureshi case.
2. Alleged undue interference and efforts of the CBI director to exclude one of the main suspects, Rakesh Saxena, from the IRCTC case. It is also alleged that instructions were passed by the CBI director CBI to Joint Director Vineet Vinayak not to conduct a search at the premises of Lalu Pasad Yadav. It was alleged that Verma was persuaded by the concerned officials in view of the extant court order and Vinayak was allowed by him at the last moment to take flight by a private airline to conduct a search at Lalu's premises.
Considering the seriousness and the source of allegations, the commission served three separate notices under Section 11 of the CVC Act 2003 on 11 September this year to Verma to produce files and documents before the CVC through authorised officials on 14 September.
The CBI on 14 September wrote a letter to the CVC requesting for more time to enable it to produce the files before CVC. The CVC considered the request and adjourned the matter to 18 September. The CBI that day wrote a letter to the CVC stating that Asthana's complaint against Verma should not be taken seriously as his integrity is doubtful.
"It is stated that that CBI has found evidence of his (Asthana) criminal misconduct in at least half a dozen cases and the officer is aware of possession of evidence of his criminal misconduct by the bureau. The CBI requested that Asthana's complaint should be viewed as a desperate attempt by a tainted officer to intimidate the officers of the various ranks in the CBI. The agency also requested the commission that such complaint may not be entertained. Irrespective of these facts, without any prejudice, the CBI further stated that if the CVC is asking for perusal or inquiry of the files, the bureau will make it available to the commission at the earliest time possible. The CBI also sought to know the identity of the complainant," the CVC's letter said.
The commission, subsequently, considered the request of the CBI and clarified that the identity of the complainant cannot be disclosed by the commission and the verification of content is more important than the identity of the complainant considering all the aspects of the matter. The commission finally reiterated its earlier notices and required Verma to produce all the documents and records on 20 September at 2 pm.
"The commission observed that allegations made against Asthana in a secret note handed over in the meeting of the selection committee on 21 October, 2017 was referred to the CBI director by the commission on 9 November, 2017, seeking a report. The commission is yet to receive a report from the CBI despite several reminders. This matter could be taken to its logical conclusion only after the receipt of a report from the CBI. Further, the commission through a letter dated 25 September this year also desired that the CBI director furnishes an interim report to the commission bringing out the investigation carried out so far and the outcome of the investigations conducted so far on the secret note dated 21 September, 2017," the CVC said in an order issued on 23 October.
The CBI on 19 September informed the CVC that documents related to Moin Qureshi are being collected from the respective branches and will be produced in due course. The CVC then asked the CBI to produce the original note sheet and records on 24 September. The agency on 24 September informed the CVC that records run into thousands of pages and files are scattered at various places like branches, malkhanas, courts etc and are being sought and will be produced before the commission in three weeks. The CVC considered the request, however, asked the CBI to produce the note sheet files maintained in CBI headquarters by 29 September.
Amidst back and forth communications, Asthana made several oral and written representations alleging that Verma was prejudiced and biased against him and trying to implicate him in certain cases. The CVC sent another letter on 25 September to Verma stating that the probe report against Asthana hasn't been filed despite a lapse of 10 months and asked that the interim report bringing out investigations carried out so far should be filed on 3 October. As there was no response, another letter on 3 October was sent to Verma requesting him to participate in a meeting with the CVC on 4 October to discuss the representation of Asthana, but the CBI director did not attend.
Subsequently, the CVC sent another letter on 15 October regarding apprehensions raised by Asthana. In the meantime, the feud between Verma and Asthana escalated and the CBI registered an FIR against Asthana and others alleging the officer took a bribe to scuttle probe in Moin Qureshi case. The Asthana faction hit back on 22 October alleging that a bribe to the tune of Rs two crore was paid to Verma and a note from senior CBI officer was submitted to the CVC just hours before the midnight coup in which both Verma and Asthana were sent on leave by the government.
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