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PM-led panel ousts CBI chief Verma

PTI

 

NEW DELHI

Alok Verma was Thursday removed unceremoniously as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director after a high-powered panel led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi found that he had not been functioning with integrity expected of him.

Verma, whose fixed tenure of two years was to end on January 31, is the first chief in the 55 years of CBI’s history to face such action, officials said.

He has been posted as Director General Fire Service, Civil Defence and Home Guards, under the Union Home Ministry.

The charge of the CBI has been given to Additional Director M Nageshwar Rao, a government order issued on Thursday evening said.

The panel which comprised leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and Justice A K Sikri, appointed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi as his nominee, had met here Thursday evening after which a decision for Verma, a 1979-batch IPS officer, was taken.

Kharge has expressed his dissent to the decision, which was taken by a majority of 2:1.

There were eight counts of charges against Verma in the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) report presented before the panel which included alleged attempts to induct tainted officers, compromising probe in the case related to controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi, IRCTC scam among others, they said.

The CVC claimed that it had found evidence of influencing of probe in the Moin Qureshi case and there were intercepts of RAW, an external snooping agency, that Rs 2 crore had changed hands. The CVC was of the view that his conduct in the case was suspicious and there was a prima facie case against him, and wanted a criminal investigation to be conducted in the case. In the IRCTC case, the CVC felt that it can be reasonably concluded that Verma deliberately excluded a name from the FIR, for reasons best known to him. The CVC also found instances of wilful non-production of record and fabrication of record. The committee also took note of Verma’s attempts to induct officers of doubtful integrity in the CBI. The CVC said that he had been given ample opportunity to present his case before the CVC, in presence of Justice (retd) Patnaik.

The officials said the panel, barring Kharge, felt that investigation, including criminal probe, was necessary, in some cases, and his continuation as CBI director was not desirable, and he should be transferred. The meeting of the committee was convened Wednesday which lasted nearly 30 minutes. It was convened again on Thursday at the residence of Prime Minister Modi at 7 Lok Kalyan Marg at around 4.30 pm.

The meeting continued for nearly two hours with Kharge strongly arguing for giving a chance to Verma to present his case before the committee on the allegations levelled by the CVC against him. He also advocated restoration of Verma as CBI director, so as to ensure the independence and neutrality of the CBI.

Kharge had also demanded an extension to Verma. However, the Prime Minister and Justice Sikri did not agree with his position making clear his ouster from the agency.

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.”

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