Alok Verma who had got a respite from the Supreme Court and reinstated as the CBI chief has now been removed as director of the CBI by a selection committee led by the PM Modi on account of serious corruption charges against the officer. The former CBI chief, Alok Verma has now been moved and appointed as the Director General (fire services and home guards). Nageswara Rao is set to work as the interim CBI chief until a replacement is found, which is expected to take around up to 10 days.
The Committee which has removed Alok Verma as the CBI chief was led by PM Modi and consisted of the Leader of Congress Party in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge and Supreme Court Judge, Justice A K Sikri. The committee recommended Verma’s removal with a 2:1 split verdict with the Congress leader and the Leader of Congress Party in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge expectedly arguing against Verma’s removal. In his dissent note, Kharge even stated that the curbs which had been imposed on Alok Verma at the time of reinstatement should be done away with. It is interesting to note that it is the same Mallikarjun Kharge who once had opposed the appointment of Alok Verma as CBI’s chief. Minister of Railways, Piyush Goyal taking a jibe at Kharge, tweeted that only Kharge has got the art of making such u-turns.
Indeed, Mr. Mallikarjun Kharge is a man of amazing consistency.
When Shri Alok Verma was appointed CBI chief by the selection committee, he dissented.
Now, when Shri Alok Verma has been removed by the same Selection Committee, he has dissented.
— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) January 10, 2019
It is important to bear in mind that when the apex court had asked the Prime Minister led panel to decide within a week whether Alok Verma could be allowed to continue as the CBI chief till January 31, when he superannuates given the CVC’s findings against him. The Supreme Court bench led by the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had held that the government cannot take the decision for even sending the CBI chief on leave without the prior consent of the selection committee.
The CVC, in its findings submitted to a Supreme Court bench, had found the former CBI chief, Alok Verma guilty on five out of ten alleged instances of corruption, criminal misconduct, interference in sensitive cases, shielding big defaulters and other offences. The CVC had also said that Verma had misled the vigilance body when he said that the investigation agency was probing his rival, Rakesh Asthana for his role in the Sterling Biotech case. Apart from this, the CVC also found Verma guilty of inducting officers with doubtful integrity in the CBI.
As per sources, the high-level committee held that “Verma had not functioned with the integrity expected of the head of a sensitive organisation”. It is clear that Congress is going to cry foul after Verma’s removal and will make unsubstantiated allegations against PM Modi and the incumbent government. However, it must be noted here that the Leader of Congress Party in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge had moved the Supreme Court earlier in connection with this case. The Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi, who was part of the bench which heard this matter, recused himself from the proceedings and nominated Justice Sikri for the Selection Committee that decided on Alok Verma’s removal. This obviously also went in line with the principle of natural justice, nemo judex causa sua (no one should be a judge in his own cause or the rule against bias). However, Kharge who was an interested party having moved the Supreme Court did not recuse himself. He went on to remain a part of the prime minister led Selection Committee and also gave a dissenting note.
It is clear that the Modi government has handled this case rather deftly. The government finally had its way in the case and it is clear that it has played its cards really well. Since the CVC had found Verma guilty in several allegations, the ball was in the Selection Committee’s Court and now it is clear that the Modi government has been able to ensure Verma’s removal as the CBI chief.
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