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Alok Verma resigns, day after being removed as CBI chief

Alok Kumar Verma
Alok Kumar Verma
A day after he was removed as Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Alok Verma has resigned from service, saying that natural justice was scuttled and the entire process was turned upside down to ensure his removal from the sensitive post.
 
The decision to remove Verma, an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the 1979 batch (AGMU cadre), from the post of Director, CBI was taken 2-1 by the high-powered three-man selection committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday, two days after the Supreme Court reinstated him in the position with some riders.
 
Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of the Congress, the largest Opposition party, in the Lok Sabha disagreed with the move and gave a note of dissent.
 
The third member of the panel, Supreme Court judge Justice A K Sikri, who was nominated by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi to represent him, appeared to have agreed with the Government's view in the matter.
 
The committee recommended that Verma be transferred from his post and posted as Director General, Fire Services, Civil Defence & Home Guards.
 
Shortly after the meeting of the selection committee ended, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) approved the transfer for the residual period of his term ending on January 31, 2019.
 
The ACC also decided that, as per the earlier arrangement, M. Nageshwar Rao, IPS (OD:86), Additional Director, CBI, will look after the duties of the Director, CBI till the appointment of a new Director, CBI, or until further orders, whichever is earlier.
 
Verma decided not to take up his new position and sent in his resignation, instead, to C. Chandramouli, Secretary, Department of Personnel.
 
In his letter, Verma said the Selection Committee had not provided him with an opportunity to explain the detials as recorded by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) before arriving at its decision in October, 2018 to recommend his transfer.
 
"Natural justice was scuttled and the entire process was turned upside down in ensuring that the undersigned is removed from the post of the Director CBI. 
 
"The Selection Committee did not consider the fact that the entire CVC report is premised on charges alluded by a complainant who is presently under investigation by the CBI," a reference to CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana, against who the agency had filed an FIR and launched investigations. Asthana had made bribery allegations against Verma earlier, in a letter to the Cabinet Secretary, who had forwarded the complaint to the CVC.
 
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"It may be noted that the CVC only forwarded a purportedly signed statement of the complainant, and the complainant never came before Hon'ble Justice (Retd.) A K Patnaik (supervising the enquiry). Also Justice Patnaik has concluded that the fndings/conclusions of the report are not his," Verma said.
 
"Institutions are one of the strongest and most visible symbols of our democracy and it is no exaggeration that the CBI is one of the most important organisations in India today. The decisions made yesterday will not just be a reflection on my functioning but will become a testimony on how the CBI as an institution will be treated by any government through the CVC, who is appointed by majority members of the ruling government. This is a moment for collective introspection, to state the least," he said.
 
"As a career bureaucrat, it is the idea of my integrity that has been the driving force for four decades in public service. I have served the Indian Police Service with an unblemished record and have headed police forces in Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Puducherry, Mizoram, Delhi and also headed two organizations, Delhi Prisons and CBI. I have been lucky to have received the invaluable support from the forces that I have headed, which resulted in outstanding achievements having a direct bearing on the performance of the force and their welfare. I would like to thank the Indian Police Service and especially the organizations that I have served.
 
"Also, it may be noted that the undersigned would have already superannuated as on July 31, 2017 and was only serving the Government as Director, CBI till January 31, 2019, as the same was a fixed tenure role. The undersigned is no longer Director, CBI and has already crossed his superannuation age for DG, Fire Services, Civil Defence & Home Guards. Accordingly, the undersigned may be deemed as superannuated with effect from today," Verma added.
 
Verma and Asthana, the top two officers in the CBI, were, in dramatic develoments in the early hours of October 24 amidst an unprecedented internal rift, sent on leave and CBI joint director M. Nageshwar Rao was given interim charge of the agency.
 
Those developments had come three days after the CBI registered a case against Asthana, alleging that he had accepted a bribe to settle a case of meat exporter Moin Qureshi, who is facing multiple cases of money laundering and corruption.
 
Asthana had earlier, in August, levelled bribery charges against Verma in a letter sent to the Cabinet Secretary.
 
As a follow-up to the first information report (FIR) filed against Asthana , the agency had arrested Devendra Kumar, a deputy superintendent of police (DSP)-rank officer. He was accused of fabricating a witness statement which had formed the basis of Asthana's complaint against Verma.
 
Verma had approached the Supreme Court against his removal and it had, in a partial relief to him, on January 8 restored him as the head of the agency by setting aside the decisions of the CVC and the Centre to divest him of his powers to function as its head but with a caveat that he will not take any policy decision till the high-level committee, which appoints the CBI chief, went into the issue afresh.
 
Disposing of a petition filed by Verma and an NGO, Common Cause, a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K. M. Joseph had said Verma would "cease and desist" from taking any policy decisions till the issue of denuding of his powers was decided by the High Power Committee (HPC) comprising the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition and the Chief Justice of India.
 
"We deem it proper to direct that... Verma ... upon reinstatement will cease and desist from taking any major policy decisions till the decision of the Committee permitting actions and decisions becomes available within the time-frame indicated," the court said in its order and directed the HPC to meet within a week from Tuesday.
 
While restoring Verma, the top court junked the Centre's order asking Joint Director M. Nageswara Rao to look after the duties and functions of CBI Director.
 
Opposition parties have been attacking the government on the issue, accusing it assaulting the independence and autonomy of CBI while the government defended the action as necessary because of the squabbling at the top and the need to protect the credibility of the organisation.
 
Verma, who resumed charge as CBI Director on Wednesday, revoked most of the transfer orders issued by Nageshwar Rao in the past few weeks. A day after taking over as the interim head of the agency again, Nageshwar Rao, in turn, overturned today all the transfer orders issued by Verma.
 
NNN

(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

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