After the three-member selection committee had decided to remove Alok Verma from the post of CBI director based on a CVC report, more details about the report have been emerging.
According to a report, CVC has alleged that Alok Verma had “clear prejudice and bias” against special director Rakesh Asthana. This conclusion is based on a finding by CVC that Verma had prepared forged documents to block Rakesh Asthana’s appointment as CBI special director in 2017.
The appointment to the post of Special Director of CBI is done by a selection committee led by the CVC. Before Asthana’s selection, CBI special unit had prepared a ‘secret note’ against Rakesh Asthana which was to be submitted to the selection committee. But according to the CVC’s probe against Verma, the CBI director had forged the special unit secret note and inserted an additional note which was not there in the original, and this forged note was submitted to the selection committee.
The note submitted with the committee had 23 entries pertaining to amounts received by Rakesh Asthana from a company named Sterling Biotech. Verma had alleged that Asthana was receiving bribes from the company. The total amount of the 23 entries was ₹3,94,72,106, with a single entry of ₹3,38,21,000, the rest being small regular payments. But the CVC has found that this amount of ₹3.38 crore was not there in the original secret note prepared by the Special Unit of CBI, which had only 22 entries, and this 23rd entry was inserted by Alok Verma. According to reports, CVC had retrieved the hard copy of the original note from the office of DIG, Special Unit, which does not contain the 23rd entry.
Moreover, the CVC also found that the 23rd entry mentioned a transaction between Sterling Biotech and another company Thermax, and Asthana had no link with this deal. But still it was included in the note against Asthana.
Verma was asked to explain this discrepancy, but he chose not to respond to this point while submitting his response to the CVC report. Verma also failed to submit any evidence or document supporting the allegation contained in the secret note.
Another evidence of clear bias of Verma against Asthana is that the 22 other entries in the secret note are valid financial transactions supported by documentary evidence, but still, the note was presented before the CVC as evidence against Asthana.
A diary recovered from Sterling Biotech during an Income Tax raid had revealed the regular payments the company was making to Rakesh Asthana. But later it was revealed that this was rent for an office the company had rented from Asthana in Gandhi Nagar. The company was paying a rent of ₹40,000 per month for the office, and this was duly reported by Asthana in his annual property detailed filed with the government. The 22 entries in the secret note mentioned this rent payment and other expenses like repairs, flat expenses etc related to the rented premises. All these payments were done through banking channels, according to a CBI official. Based on this evidence, the charges against Asthana could have been dropped, but Alok Verma did not do so and persisted with the case.
The CVC report also said that Thermax had confirmed the 23rd transaction with Sterling and said that Rakesh Asthana was not involved in the transaction.
It may be noted that the CVC-led selection committee had already seen the secret note and found that it does not prove any corruption by Asthana and had cleared his appointment as Special Director of CBI. After that, Prashant Bhushan had filed three petitions in the Supreme Court against the appointment or Rakesh Asthana, quoting the allegations made by Alok Verma. The apex court also had found no basis in those allegations and dismissed all three petitions.