Among allegations against Alok Verma: Rs 2-crore bribe, bid to halt raids

Rahul Tripathi, Ananthakrishnan G
Alok Verma.

The high-powered committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which removed CBI Director Alok Verma on charges of corruption and misuse of his official position, took cognizance of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) report that indicted Verma. The probe by CVC was based on the complaint by CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana, filed before the cabinet secretary in August 2018.

The allegations levelled by Asthana against Verma include:

Sana paid Verma Rs 2 cr: In a letter to CVC, Asthana alleged that businessman Sathish Sana Babu paid Verma Rs 2 crore to get a clean chit in the Moin Qureshi case. Asthana again wrote to CVC on October 19, four days after the FIR was registered against him, claiming that he wanted to arrest and interrogate Sana, for which a proposal was sent to Verma on September 20. Asthana claimed Verma held the file for nearly four days and marked it to the Director of Prosecution on September 24, who demanded all evidence available on record.

IRCTC case: In a letter to CVC dated September 14, Asthana wrote that Verma issued an order that day removing him from the IRCTC case, in which Lalu Prasad, Rabri Devi and Tejashwi Yadav were charged. Asthana alleged that Verma asked him to call off the raids planned against Lalu in Patna last year at the eleventh hour. The CBI, which is probing alleged irregularities in the award of IRCTC contracts, did conduct the raids after Asthana apparently stood his ground.

Coal scam case: Asthana accused Verma of not taking action on intelligence inputs. He alleged that despite warning the accused in the coal scam, the accused fled and no lookout notice was served. He also accused Verma of attempts to induct tainted officers.

INX Media case: Asthana informed CVC that he was removed from looking into INX Media case. The CBI had filed charges against P Chidambaram, his son Karti and others in the case in July.

Removal of staff: Asthana complained to CVC against the "ex-parte" relieving of his staff officer NMP Sinha by Verma with the sole intention to "humiliate" him (Asthana).

Complaint against JD: Asthana's complaint lists the name of CBI Joint Director Rajiv Singh, who was recently repatriated to his parent cadre. Asthana alleged that a case of bank fraud was registered on March 31, 2016, on a written complaint from Allahabad Bank. "The firm belonged to Sanjay Singh, brother of CBI joint director Singh. To protect Rajiv Singh and his brother, the file was kept pending for more than 10 months by JD, Patna, Bhanu Bhaskar," Asthana alleged.

Outside Alok Verma’s residence on Thursday evening. (Express photo by Amit Mehra)

Land scam case: The charge relates to registration of a preliminary enquiry by CBI in the matter of land acquisition in Nangli, Umarpur, Tigra, Ulhawas and other villages in Haryana for building residential sectors in Gurgaon. Asthana alleged that he received information that Rs 36 crore was changing hands to ensure the probe was closed. "It was found that then-director of town planning and a real estate company owner were liasoning with joint director A.K. Sharma and Alok Verma," Asthana alleged.

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CVC report: The CVC cited evidence of influencing investigation in the Qureshi case on the part of Verma. There was also evidence of taking of bribe of Rs 2 crore. CVC was of the view that his conduct in the case was suspicious, and there was a prima facie case against him.

In the IRCTC case, the CVC felt that it can be reasonably concluded that Verma deliberately excluded a name from the FIR, as alleged by Asthana. The report also says there were several instances of wilful non-production of record and fabrication of record on the part of the CBI chief.

In its order on October 23 against Verma, the CVC said that while inquiry was on against him on a complaint from Asthana, he did not cooperate despite three notices sent to him.

The findings of the CVC report were, however, not discussed during the hearing on Verma's petition in the Supreme Court challenging his removal. The apex court only observed that it had referred to the need for further probe into some of the charges.