A day after retired Justice AK Patnaik said there was "no evidence of corruption" against ousted Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director Alok Verma, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has recommended a CBI investigation into the allegations against Verma. Patnaik, a former Supreme Court judge, was in charge of the inquiry into corruption charges against Verma.
The CVC is expected to write to the Centre recommending a departmental inquiry and a criminal investigation by the CBI against Verma, reports said. "This is a logical corollary of our preliminary probe and the recommendation we made for further probe with regard to some of the charges Verma is facing," The Times of India quoted a source as saying.
The report also said that the Research and Analysis Wing had four intercepts of telephone conversations between Verma and several people involved in the Moin Qureshi case — including Hyderabad-based businessman Satish Babu Sana — that "backed" the CVC's recommendation to investigate Verma's role in the case. The FIR against CBI special director Rakesh Asthana was filed based on a bribery complaint Sana had made against him.
Furthermore, the CVC has demanded that the CBI submit documents related to six cases against Verma, India Today reported. "The CVC is looking into Verma's role in these cases, which range from leaking internal documents, diluting lookout circulars and protecting people involved in bank fraud, among others," the report added.
On Saturday, Patnaik had criticised the decision of the Selection Committee — comprising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Justice AK Sikri and Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge — to remove Verma from the office of CBI director. They made the decision in a 2:1 vote — with Kharge dissenting — after the Supreme Court reinstated Verma to the post on Tuesday, but with restrictions.
Patnaik said the CVC's findings alone cannot be taken as the "final word" in the matter, The Indian Express reported. "There was no evidence against Verma regarding corruption. The entire inquiry was conducted on Asthana's complaint. I have said in my report that none of the findings in the CVC's report are mine," he had said.
Patnaik's comments came after Verma refused to take charge as the director general of fire service, civil defence and home guards on Friday, a post he was transferred to after being removed as the CBI director. In a letter to the Secretary of The Department of Personnel and Training, Verma had said he was resigning because his tenure had been unfairly cut short, and he was not given a chance to explain himself before the selection panel gave its final verdict on his fate.
'Government didn't share Justice Patnaik's report with Selection Committee'
On Saturday, Kharge said the government had not shared Justice Patnaik's report with the Selection Committee, The Indian Express reported. "This is the question I raised there (at the Selection Committee meeting). That whether they have recorded the proceedings… because the proceedings had not yet come. I told them I had not received Justice Patnaik's report and you should give a chance to Alok Verma to apprise us about the allegations made by the CVC, about whether they are true or false… They did not place those records before the committee," the report quoted Kharge as saying.
"Patnaik's report was not placed (before the committee), and he himself is now saying that while the report is of 50 pages… the annexures ran into 1,000 pages. They did not submit that. They made a hasty decision…" he said.
Reacting to Patnaik's report, the Congress on Saturday demanded Verma's reinstatement, claiming that the office of the CVC had been "compromised". Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi alleged that the government stood exposed, adding that the Selection Committee had removed Verma based on Asthana's charges, whose plea to quash the FIR against him was also dismissed by the Delhi High Court on Friday.
"Is it not strange that Rakesh Asthana, who himself is under investigation, was the basis of Verma's removal?" Singhvi said. "But the CVC can neither appoint nor remove the CBI chief. The office of the CVC has been compromised by the government."
Officers to move Supreme Court against transfer orders
Two officers, whose transfers were approved by interim CBI director Nageshwara Rao, will move the Supreme Court against the order, The Hindu reported. The officers may also allege contempt of court "following the interim CBI director's order declaring all the directions issued under Verma as 'non est'".
On Friday, Rao had nullified and reversed all transfer orders put in place by Verma after he took charge of the office for two days on the top court's order. The interim CBI director had said: "All actions in pursuance thereof by all concerned are also hereby declared as null and void. In other words, status-quo ante as on 8 January stands restored."
Verma responded to his removal on Thursday, saying that the allegations against him were "false, unsubstantiated and frivolous". "It (the CBI) must function without external influences. I tried to uphold the integrity of the institution while attempts were being made to destroy it. The same can be seen from the orders of the central government and the CVC dated 23 October, 2018, which were without jurisdiction and were set aside," he had said.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Jan 13, 2019 13:28:02 IST