PM-led selection panel shunts out Alok Verma as CBI chief
Alok Verma has been shunted out as the CBI Director after a marathon meeting of high-powered selection committee led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, officials said. M Nageshwar Rao has been reinstated as the chief of the central probe agency till a new Director is appointed or further orders are issued, the government said.
Alok Verma, a 1979-batch AGMUT cadre IPS officer, has been removed from the high-profile post on the charges of corruption and dereliction of duty. This makes him the first CBI chief ever to face such action. Verma has been appointed as the Director General of Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guards for the remainder of his term, which end on January 31, 2019, a statement by the Appointments Committee of Cabinet said.
There were eight counts of charges against him in the CVC report presented before the PM Modi-led Committee. The panel also had Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha and senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, as well as Justice A K Sikri who was appointed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi as his nominee.
The decision for the removal was taken by a two-to-one majority with Kharge strongly opposing the move, reports said. In his dissent note, the Kharge called for restoring Alok Verma as the CBI Director with full extent of power under his office, and allow him to complete the tenure that had been wrongfully denied to him.
The senior Congress leader argued that the CVC report lacks any substantial findings against Verma. He also asked that an independent probe must be initiated to verify what happened on the intervening night of October 23 and 24 last year with respect to Verma's removal.
The Supreme Court had reinstated Alok Verma as the CBI Director on Wednesday, 77 days after he was sent on forced leave by the central government through a much-criticised late-night order on October 23, 2018.
The October order that sent Verma and his deputy Special Director Rakesh Asthana, booked by the agency on corruption charges, into exile in a first-of-its-kind move by the government in the agency's history.
Earlier today, Alok Verma had annulled most of the transfers effected by M Nageshwar Rao during his earlier tenure as the CBI chief. Rao had issued seven transfer orders including those probing corruption case against Asthana, like Deputy SP A K Bassi, DIG M K Sinha, Joint Director A K Sharma, among others.
Edited by Vivek Punj with PTI inputs