Central Bureau of Investigation Director Alok Verma was removed from the post on Thursday, two days after he was reinstated, NDTV reported.
The decision came after the second meeting of a high-power selection committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A Supreme Court order had on January 8 reinstated Verma and had asked the committee to consider his case within a week.
Additional Director M Nageshwar Rao will look after the duties of director till a new one is appointed or until further orders, ANI reported. Rao had been given interim charge earlier too, when the government had first divested Verma of his duties in October.
Verma has been posted as director general of Fire Services, Civil Defence, and Home Guards.
Apart from Modi, the committee comprises Supreme Court judge AK Sikri, who was nominated by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge. A meeting on Wednesday had remained inconclusive.
The decision to remove Verma was made after both Modi and Sikri voted in favour of Verma’s removal and said his continuance as director would be detrimental to the CBI’s institutional integrity, News18 reported. Kharge opposed the removal and gave a dissent note.
Kharge said Verma should not be penalised and should get an extension of 77 days, in compensation for the period he was not allowed to attend office, PTI reported.
Kharge had sought documents, including the inquiry report by the Central Vigilance Commission, ANI reported. He had contended that Verma should be given an opportunity to appear before the committee and represent his case.
Verma on Wednesday had revoked most of the transfer orders issued between October 24 and January 8 by Rao. He was set to retire on January 31.
Earlier, the Chief Justice of India Gogoi had opted out of the committee as he was part of the three-judge bench that had heard the CBI director’s plea in the top court.
‘PM afraid of investigation’
The Congress said the decision showed that the government was scared of an investigation. “By removing Alok Verma from his position without giving him the chance to present his case, PM Modi has shown once again that he’s too afraid of an investigation, either by an independent CBI director or by Parliament via JPC [joint parliamentary committee],” the party tweeted.
Congress leader Anand Sharma said Verma’s removal as CBI director should be investigated. “What is PM Modi worried about? What does he not want the CBI to look into?” Sharma asked. “The manner in which the CBI chief was removed abruptly at midnight should be investigated.”
The BJP, meanwhile, described the Congress as a “sore loser” and said party chief Rahul Gandhi’s lies had been completely exposed. “Sore loser Congress is licking its wounds after failing to subvert the CBI by joining internal personal battles,” said BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao. “The only investigation pending is of ‘The Family’ that received bribes from ‘Mama Christian Michel’ in multiple defence deals.”
CVC report findings
The Central Vigilance Commission in its inquiry report had flagged corruption and dereliction of duty on Verma’s part, citing telephone interceptions by external spy agency Research and Analysis Wing, PTI reported. The report, which was considered by the high-powered selection committee, had levelled eight counts of charges against Verma.
The report claimed that the CBI team investigating the case of meat exporter Moin Qureshi wanted to make Hyderabad-based businessman Sathish Babu Sana an accused in the case but Verma had not given clearance. Qureshi is an accused in multiple graft cases.
The report mentioned another case related to a CBI preliminary inquiry for land acquisition in Gurugram. The commission, which recommended a detailed investigation, claimed that Verma’s name had figured in the case and at least Rs 36 crore had been exchanged.
The commission claimed that Verma tried to save an officer in the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation scam case, which involves former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav. The report also alleged that Verma was trying to bring in tainted officials into the CBI.