CBI Director Alok Verma has been ousted from his post by a High Powered Committee comprising of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Justice Sikri (nominee by Chief Justice Gogoi) and Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge. The ouster was owing to the corruption charges against Alok Verma. The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) had submitted a report on 9th January 2019 after investigating the complaint against Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana.
The CVC report had some serious allegations against Alok Verma, the now-ousted CBI Director.
The CVC report says that after the complaint was received by CVC on 31st August 2018, and then, the CVC had asked for relevant records from CBI on 11th September 2018, to be produced before 14th September 2018. However, the records were never produced before the CVC after several reminders. The report says that the documents were not received by the CVC till 23rd October 2018.
The CVC report says that Alok Verma was divested of his duties because of the circumstances prevailing in the CBI including non-co-operation, non-compliance and wilful obstruction to the inquiry being conducted. Alok Verma was divested vide an order issued on 23rd October 2018 after several reminders to produce the documents on 14th September 2018, 19th September 2018, 24th September 2018 and 22nd October 2018.
The report was submitted to the Court on 12th November 2018 after Alok Verma vide a Writ Petition challenged the CVC and DoPT order.
The summary findings of the CVC report, which has been acquired by OpIndia, on the allegations against Alok Verma are as follows:
Moin Qureshi case
In the Moin Qureshi case, the CVC report says that prima facie, it is established that Alok Verma’s conduct was suspicious in the case. However, there is no direct evidence regarding the allegation that Verma accepted Rs. 2 crores as bribe from Satish Sana. The CVC report said that in the light of the circumstantial evidence, the full truth of the matter would come out if a thorough criminal investigation is ordered by the Court.
The CVC report said that it can be reasonably concluded that Alok Verma excluded a suspect from the FIR in the IRCTC case. The report says that Alok Verma deliberately excluded the name of key conspirator Rakesh Saxena, Director, IRCTC from the FIR for reasons ‘best known to him’. The report said, “this amounts to serious misconduct and warrants disciplinary action and other actions”. However, the report said that allegation that Verma tried to call off searches at Patna is not substantiated yet.
Transfer of Bank fraud case
This case relates to the Bank fraud case of Rajiv Singh, the then JD of CBI. There was an inordinate delay in finalising the Investigative Report by CBI and because of the delay, it appears to have led to the allegation that Alok Verma was favouring Rajiv Singh. The transfer of SIR related to Singh by Alok Verma is unsubstantiated.
Not taking action on ‘certain’ intelligence inputs
This allegation was not substantiated.
Illegal gratification in ongoing preliminary enquiry against land acquisition in Haryana
The CVC report said that the inquiry into this allegation requires sustained effort and due to the paucity of time, this allegation could not be looked into except perusal of the file. It should be remembered here that the Court had given CVC only two weeks to complete its investigation into the charges.
Smuggling of Gold at Delhi Airport
This allegation according to the CVC is partially substantiated. It says that Alok Verma as CP Delhi did not take Vigilance Action against Raj Kumar ACP in spite of noticing grave misconduct.
Helping cattle smugglers
The allegation was not substantiated.
Attempts to induct tainted officers into CBI
This allegation was fully substantiated. Alok Verma tried to induct R P Upadhyay and Rajeev Krishna.
Undue interference in cases
Interference in the Lucknow case was unsubstantiated. In the Chandigarh case (Gurnam Singh case) the allegation was party substantiated and part of the allegation required further detailed investigation said the CVC in its report.
Fabrication of document
The CVC report says, “During the inquiry, while examining the representation of the Special Director it was noticed that the secret note dated 21st October 2017 placed before the Selection Committee appears to be fabricated document in as much as the author of the document (AIG P) stated the document was given to him by the Director”.
The CVC report goes on to say that the original document prepared by the DIG SU did ‘not contain the damaging paras” and the authorship of the damaging paras by any authorised person is not established (para 10 or Inquiry Report).
The CVC report states, “This casts serious doubts about the integrity of Alok Verma who placed the said document before the Committee and later did not submit any report and documents on the allegations contained in the said “Secret Note” as repeatedly requested by the Commission”.
This damning observation by the CVC against Alok Verma comes after Rakesh Asthana, Special Director, CBI expressed apprehension that he was being implicated in false cases by the CBI at the instance of Director, CBI.
Other complaints during the pendency of writ petition before Court
The CVC report says that while Alok Verma’s writ petition was pending before the Supreme Court, several other complaints were also received by the CVC against Alok Verma. Sudhanshu Khare, Additional SP, CBI Lucknow and others alleged:
- Protection of accused persons from legal punishment and criminal prosecution in NHRM scam.
- Protecting the officers of UP Police in Rajesh Sahni suicide case by refusing the take up the investigation in the case.
- Protecting the FIR named accused Ranjit Singh and Abhishek Singh in Bank Fraud case.
- Cover up in leakage of internal emails on Nirav Modi in 13,000 crore PNB scam.
- Dilution of Look Out Circular regarding accused Vijay Mallya in Bank Fraud Case.
- Dilution of Look Out Circular regarding accused C Sivasankaran (former owner of Aircel) in IDBI Bank Fraud Case.
The CVC report states that at the time of producing the report, they had asked the CBI to produce documents and records relating to the above-mentioned cases. However, the CBI produced files concerning dilution of LOC against Vijay Mallya only. The other documents in respect to the remaining cases are yet to be produced. CVC says the matter is under inquiry.
In the final observations, the Central Vigilance Committee makes the following observations:
- Some of the allegations contained in the complaint forwarded by the Cabinet Secretary under investigation are prima facie established and they are of very grave nature impacting on the integrity of the officer concerned and the institution.
- Some of the allegations require further detailed investigation which will not be possible with Alok Verma heading the same organisation which is to conduct such investigation.
- Instances of wilful non-production of records and non-co-operation with the Commission in the exercise of its function.
- The production of fabricated/non-genuine documents before the Selection Committee which reflects complete lack of integrity and fairness.
- Further grave allegations in the complaint received post-submission of the Inquiry Report to the Supreme Court is under inquiry.
- An environment of hostility and faction feud in CBI leading to potential loss of reputation/credibility, the Commission, after due-deliberation is of the considered view that the continuance of Alok Verma as Director CBI is not appropriate and is not in the interest of the integrity and reputation of the CBI.
The allegations made in the CVC report are certainly grave, primarily about high profile cases like in the case of Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi, IRCTC case and supposed framing of Rakesh Asthana with a fabricated document.
Reportedly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Justice Sikri, after reading the CVC report voted to oust Alok Verma, however, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge sent a dissenting note opposing the ousting of Alok Verma.
Congress leader Kharge argued that the Central Vigilance Commission report lacked “substantial findings” against him. He also said Alok Verma’s tenure should be extended since he lost 77 days after being “illegally’ transferred”. Kharge also demanded that an “independent inquiry” into the removal of Alok Verma.
Kharge had also brought up the Rafale bogey to say that Alok Verma was ousted because he wanted to “investigate” the Rafale deal which got a clean chit by the Supreme Court. However, this bogey is useless, considering the CBI cannot investigate defence deals unless the Court or the Government orders one. There were also reports that emerged that the CBI was all set to file a corruption case against Alok Verma.