The Central Bureau of Investigation on Friday said a complaint filed by the agency’s second-in-command Rakesh Asthana against its Director Alok Verma was malicious and frivolous, PTI reported.

The statement was issued after some media reports claimed that Asthana had approached the Central Vigilance Commission, accusing Verma of interfering in his team’s investigations. Asthana, who is a special director, heads a Special Investigation Team that is looking into some high-profile cases.

“It is unfortunate that baseless and frivolous allegations are being made publicly without proper verification of facts to malign the image of the director [of] CBI and intimidate the officials of the organisation,” the agency said. Acting on the complaint, the Central Vigilance Commission asked the agency for certain case files, the statement added. The CBI said it has submitted most of the files and will send the rest soon.

The CBI’s chief vigilance officer told the Central Vigilance Commission that the complaint was Asthana’s attempt to intimidate the agency’s officers who are investigating his role in some cases. The agency said the “CVC should opine on the maintainability of the complaint and consider it malicious and frivolous in order to protect the integrity of the organisation”.

Earlier in the day, The Economic Times quoted unidentified officials as saying that the Central Vigilance Commission had started a fact-finding investigation after Asthana registered his complaint. Asthana sent the complaint to the government, which referred it to the vigilance body, the newspaper said.

Asthana’s appointment to the CBI in October invited criticism from several quarters. A non-governmental organisation called Common Cause filed a petition in the Supreme Court, calling the appointment illegal and claimed that it violated the principles of “impeccable integrity” and “institutional integrity”.

The organisation pointed out that Asthana’s name had surfaced in a diary obtained by the CBI from the premises of Gujarat-based Sterling Biotech in August 2017. The diary suggested that the CBI officer had accepted bribes from the company, the petitioners alleged. The Supreme Court, however, dismissed the plea.