The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) submitted its report on the alleged wrongdoing by CBI chief Alok Verma at the Supreme Court today. This was a confidential report given in a sealed cover. But, ahead of this, some media houses and journalists had claimed to have access to the confidential report, and had claimed that the CVC found no evidence of corruption by Verma.
The CEO of NDTV had tweeted this, quoting her colleague:
BREAKING: CVC finds no evidence of corruption by CBI chief Alok Verma as alleged by Asthana, reports my colleague Sunil Prabhu
— Suparna Singh (@Suparna_Singh) November 15, 2018
NDTV even ran a story based on source, saying CVC found no proof that Alok Verma took a bribe. NDTV had concluded that Verma has been cleared of the ‘main allegation’ bribe-taking, but found proof of ‘administrative lapses’ by him.
Another journalist from Hindu had claimed that CVC would file a report which would keep Verma under doubt, but retired SC judge Ashok Patnaik didn’t allow that. Patnaik was appointed as a supervisor for the CVC probe by the apex court.
Buzz:There were attempts in CVC to file a report in such a way that would have kept CBI Director Alok Verma under realm of suspicion,in grey; the move was thwarted by retired SC judge Ashok Patnaik who camped in CVC office. Case comes up for hearing in SC tomo.
— vijaita singh (@vijaita) November 15, 2018
But what actually happened in the court is totally contrary to those advance predictions. After seeing the report, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said that “the report can be categorised in four points- on some charges, it is very complimentary, on some, not so complimentary, on some, it is not at all complimentary, and on others, further investigation is required”.
In other words, on some allegations, Verma has been given clean chit by CVC. But there are other allegations which are not clear but there are doubts, some go totally against Verma, and some needs more probe. This means that CVC has found conclusive evidence on some of the alleged wrongdoings by Verma, which are not all complimentary.
Even if CVC has found nothing against Verma in some allegations, if there is even one serious allegation that is found to be true by CVC and accepted by the Supreme Court, that would a setback for him and his supporters in media and political parties.
Moreover, the allegations of Verma taking bribe was made by Rakesh Asthana, CVC had never said that is the main allegation against Verma as NDTV claims. CVC had found that Verma had taken action against Asthana without obtaining prior sanction from competent authorities as per law. Moreover, the case against Asthana was filed under section 13 (1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, which was removed in July through an amendment to the act. CVC also said that despite sending repeated reminders for over 10 months, Verma did not submit any evidence to prove his allegations against Asthana. These things may be mere ‘administrative lapses’ for NDTV, but Supreme Court may think otherwise.
The court also reprimanded Dushyant Dave, advocate for NGO Common Cause which is also a petitioner in the case. In the last hearing, Dave had submitted that acting CBI chief Nageshwar Rao was making certain decisions which violate Supreme Court’s order. In its October 26 order, the apex court had said that the acting chief can’t take any major policy decision. But the petitioners failed to submit any detail of policy decision taken by Rao.
When the chief justice asked whether the court should presume that no such decisions were taken at all by Rao, Dave said that such decisions are not available to him. Instead of providing proof of violation of SC order by Rao, Dave requested the court to issue an order to place the decisions taken by CBI acting chief to the court.
The chief justice refused to entertain this request, saying if there is no evidence of any wrongdoing, there is no need to ask for further information from CBI.
The court handed over a copy of the report to Alok Verma in sealed cover, and asked him to file a response to the report by November 19. The CJI said that after the response is received from Verma, the court will take a decision on the matter.
The court said it is not calling for any response from the government of India or any other party, only Alok Verma is required to file his response. Court will take the matter next on 20 November 2018.