Press Trust of india

CBI Director Alok Verma ousted by PM-led panel

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Kharge expresses dissent to the decision

New Delhi, Jan 10: Alok Verma was Thursday removed unceremoniously as the CBI director after a high-powered panel led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi found that he had not been functioning with integrity expected of him.

Verma, whose fixed tenure of two years was to end on January 31, is the first chief in the 55-years of the CBI's history to face such action, officials said.

He has been posted as Director General Fire Service, Civil Defence and Home Guards, under the Union Home Ministry.

The charge of the CBI has been given to Additional Director M Nageshwar Rao, a government order issued on Thursday evening said.

The panel which 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, had met here Thursday evening after which a decision for Verma, a 1979-batch IPS officer, was taken.

Kharge has expressed his dissent to the decision which was taken by a majority of 2:1.

There were eight counts of charges against Verma in the CVC report presented before the panel which included alleged attempts to induct tainted officers, compromising probe in the case related to controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi, IRCTC scam among others, they said.

The Central Vigilance Commission claimed that it had found evidence of influencing of probe in the Moin Qureshi case and there were intercepts of RAW, an external snooping agency, that Rs 2 crore had changed hands.

The CVC was of the view that his conduct in the case was suspicious and there was a prima facie case against him, and wanted a criminal investigation to be conducted in the case.

In the IRCTC case, the CVC felt that it can be reasonably concluded that Verma deliberately excluded a name from the FIR, for reasons best known to him.

The CVC also found instances of wilful non-production of record and fabrication of record.

The committee also took note of Verma's attempts to induct officers of doubtful integrity in the CBI.

The CVC said that he had been given ample opportunity to present his case before the CVC, in presence of Justice (retd) Patnaik.

The officials said the panel, barring Kharge, felt that investigation, including criminal probe, was necessary, in some cases, and his continuation as CBI Director was not desirable, and he should be transferred.

The meeting of the committee was convened Wednesday which lasted nearly 30 minutes.

It was convened again on Thursday at the residence of Prime Minister Modi at 7 Lok Kalyan Marg at around 4.30 PM.

The meeting continued for nearly two hours with Kharge strongly arguing for giving a chance to Verma to present his case before the committee on the allegations levelled by the CVC against him.

However, the Prime Minister and Justice Sikri did not agree with his position making clear his ouster from the agency.

Reacting to the development, the Congress said, "By removing Alok Verma 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."

A delegation of former ministers Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha along with activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan had met Verma on October 4, 2018 with plea of registering an FIR in the Rafale aircraft purchase deal.

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 which had intensified after Asthana was booked on corruption charges by the CBI on October 15, 2018.

He had challenged the order in the Supreme Court which had quashed the government order Tuesday and reinstated him with a condition that the high-powered selection committee will decide his fate in a week.

Verma had joined the office Wednesday after 77 days of forced leave set aside by the Supreme Court.

The apex court had said any further decision against Verma, who was scheduled to retire on January 31, would be taken by the high-powered committee which selects and appoints the CBI director.

The Supreme Court in the Vineet Narayan judgment had fixed a minimum tenure of two years for the CBI director to give him immunity from any political interference. Later, through the Lokpal Act, the process of selecting the CBI director was handed over to a selection committee.

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