New Delhi: Just days after the Supreme Court reinstated Alok Verma as director of the Central Bureau of Investigation, a high-level panel led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday decided to sack him.
The panel also included Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, and Justice A. K. Sikri. The judge backed Modi’s view that Verma’s continuance would be detrimental to the institutional integrity of the CBI, presumably on the basis of the Central Vigilance Commissioner’s sealed report to the Supreme Court.
Kharge submitted a dissent note, arguing that the committee neither gave Verma a hearing nor considered his replies to the CVC’s report.
Subsequent to the panel’s decision, The Wire‘s M.K. Venu wrote that it had both procedural and moral flaws. Apart from violating the principles of natural justice, the decision is also questionable because the prime minister is presiding over a matter in which his office also stands accused, the report said.
Verma had challenged the Narendra Modi government’s decision to divest him of his duties and send him on leave on October 23. An NGO, Common Cause, also filed a petition questioning the government, and the court bunched the two together.
Even before the midnight upheaval at the CBI, The Wire had reported on the ongoing turf war within the organisation. In an episode of ‘Rajdhani Ke Rahasya’, Rohini Singh and Abhisar Sharma talked about the ‘gang war’ within the agency and what was fuelling it.
Rohini Singh also wrote an article about how in a coal block allocation case, conflicting views had emerged on how to handle Bhaskar Khulbe, secretary in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office.
Once the news broke about Verma ouster, The Wire carried a series of articles detailing what went on behind the scenes, including several exclusives. Swati Chaturvedi wrote about how Verma’s interest in looking into the Rafale deal may have set the Central government against him. Read it here: Exclusive: CBI Director Alok Verma’s Interest in Rafale Tipped Scales Against Him.
Rohini Singh looked into how Verma’s ouster left the fate of recordings incriminating top officials unclear.
In a video, The Wire‘s team put together an explainer to the crisis.
The Wire also followed the Supreme Court petition filed by Alok Verma closely, including detailing the submissions he made. As Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta reported, Verma alleged that his deputy Rakesh Asthana, the PMO and BJP leader Sushil Modi worked together to book Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad Yadav in the IRCTC scam.
CBI DIG Manish Kumar Sinha filed a plea seeking to intervene in the case and made a slew of damning claims. He said hat Union minister of state for coal and mines Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary received “a few crores of rupees” as part of an extortion racket and that National Security Advisor Ajit Doval blocked some key investigations. Read the details here: CBI Officer’s Explosive Petition: ‘Minister Paid, Doval Blocked Search for Evidence’.
In a video, Rohini Singh and Siddharth Varadarajan discussed why Sinha’s submissions were bad news for Narendra Modi and Doval.
Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta and M.K. Venu also wrote about how Verma’s statements to the Central Vigilance Commission, which was tasked with investigating the allegations against the CBI director, put the Modi government in an uncomfortable position. Verma had questioned the CVC’s integrity as an independent investigator and hinted at the support Asthana and central vigilance commissioner K.V. Chowdary may have received from a “top official” at the PMO in going after him. Read their article here: Exclusive: CBI Director Alok Verma’s Responses to CVC Put Modi Government in the Dock.
You can read The Wire‘s complete coverage of the conflict within the CBI here.