Corruption and dereliction of duty flagged by the Central Vigilance Commission in its enquiry report, citing telephone interceptions by external spy agency RAW, led to the unceremonious exit of Alok Verma as the CBI chief, the first in the probe agency’s over 50-year history.
According to officials, the high-powered panel led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi considered the CVC report which levelled eight counts of charges against Verma, who had been reinstated by the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
The panel’s decision to remove Verma was based on a majority vote of 2:1 with Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge opposing it and Justice A K Sikri siding with the government, they said.
The CVC report spoke about the controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi’s case and claimed that CBI team looking into the case wanted to make Hyderabad-based businessman Sathish Babu Sana an accused in the case but Verma never gave clearance.
The probe in this case was led by special director Rakesh Asthana, who along with Verma was sent on forced leave on October 23.
The CVC report also contained intercepts from the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), the external snooping agency, in which “money changing hands with number one in the CBI” is talked about, the officials said.
Incidentally, Sana is the complainant for a case registered against Asthana in which he has given graphical details about how he had paid bribe to his middlemen.
He has also mentioned the name of Samanta Goel, the second-in-command at the RAW, of being involved in protecting the middleman, Manoj Prasad.
The other case relates to a Preliminary Enquiry registered by the CBI about acquisition of land in Gurgaon. The CVC alleged that Verma’s name had figured in the case and at least Rs 36 crore had changed hands.
The CVC had recommended a thorough probe into the case. The CVC, which has a supervisory role over the CBI, had also alleged that Verma tried to save an officer in the IRCTC case involving former Union Minister Lalu Prasad.
The commission also alleged that Verma was trying to bring in tainted officials into the CBI. It claimed that efforts seeking cooperation from the CBI chief did not yield results as he continued to keep the files away from the CVC.
Reacting to the development, the Congress said, “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.”
A delegation of former ministers Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha along with activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan had met Verma on October 4, 2018 with plea of registering an FIR in the Rafal aircraft purchase deal.
Verma was sent on forced leave by the government in a late-night controversial order on October 23, 2018 in the wake of a feud between him and his deputy Special Director Rakesh Asthana which had intensified after Asthana was booked on corruption charges by the CBI on October 15, 2018.
He had challenged the order in the Supreme Court which had quashed the government order Tuesday and reinstated him with a condition that the high-powered selection committee will decide his fate in a week.
Verma had joined the office Wednesday after 77 days of forced leave set aside by the Supreme Court.