New Delhi: The retired Supreme Court judge who was overlooking the Central Vigilance Commission’s inquiry into Alok Verma has said that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led panel’s decision to remove the Central Bureau of Investigation chief was “very, very hasty”.
The apex court had asked Justice A.K. Patnaik to supervise the CVC. On Friday, Patnaik told the Indian Express that there was “no evidence of corruption” against Verma, and “what the CVC says cannot be the final word”.
The high-powered committee that sacked Verma comprised Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the leader of the largest opposition party – Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge – and Justice A.K. Sikri. Sikri was standing in for Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, who recused himself from the process as he had written the order backing Verma on January 8.
Kharge voted against the decision to remove Verma, while Modi and Sikri were in the majority. In his dissent note, Kharge protested the fact that the committee neither gave Verma a hearing nor bothered to consider his replies to the CVC’s report.
“There was no evidence against Verma regarding corruption. The entire enquiry was held on (CBI Special Director Rakesh) Asthana’s complaint. I have said in my report that none of the findings in the CVC’s report are mine,” Patnaik told Indian Express.
Justice Patnaik has also written to CJI Ranjan Gogoi saying that Asthana’s statement was recorded while the observer was not present, according to the newspaper. “…the CVC forwarded to me a statement dated 9.11.2018 purportedly signed by Shri Rakesh Asthana. I may clarify that this statement purportedly signed by Shri Rakesh Asthana was not made in my presence.”
The retired judge also told Indian Express that the Modi-led panel did not spend enough time on discussion. “Even if the Supreme Court said that the high-power committee must decide, the decision was very, very hasty. We are dealing with an institution here. They should have applied their mind thoroughly, especially as a Supreme Court judge was there. What the CVC says cannot be the final word.”
The government had transferred Verma out of the CBI and made him director-general of fire service, civil defence and home guards. However, Verma turned down this posting on Friday and asked that he be considered superannuated. In a letter to department of personnel and training secretary C. Chandramouli, Verma said “natural justice were scuttled” and the process was turned “upside down” in ensuring that he was removed as the director of CBI.
Verma’s removal from the CBI – ostensibly on charges of corruption and dereliction of duty – made him the first chief in the history of the agency to face such action
You can read The Wire‘s complete coverage of the CBI conflict here.