Alok Verma was removed as CBI Chief on Thursday, (January 10, 2018) by the selection committee. This has led to the opposition crying hoarse over the issue. Congress President Rahul Gandhi tweeted against this, linking this to the Rafale. As usual, Rahul Gandhi offers no evidence to back his claims. As the misinformation campaign over this issue likely to spread further in the days to come, here are answers to some of the misgivings that may arise.
Doubt: Supreme Court reinstated Alok Verma. Is this not a case of Committee acting against SC ruling?
Answer: No. The Supreme Court never set aside the corruption charges against Alok Verma. It just did not agree with the way Alok Verma was sent on leave. So, the court simply asked a high-powered committee, consisting of the prime minister, the chief justice and the leader of the Opposition, to look into any required action against Verma. As per the SC ruling, now the committee has taken the required action against Verma. So, what is the fuss about?
Doubt: It is solely enforcing the will of Prime Minister and the Government.
Answer: The committee comprises the nominee of Chief Justice of India and the leader of the opposition along with Prime Minister. Alok Verma removed as CBI chief by 2:1 vote. CJI’s nominee also voted in favour of Verma’s removal while the leader of the opposition Mallikarjun Kharge submitted the dissent note. But the same Kharge had opposed the appointment of Alok Verma back in January 2017. It should be noted that previously when the Supreme Court passed order to re-instate Alok Verma, it had ruled that Alok Verma can’t take any major policy decisions until that committee takes a call. All those opposition members who claimed “indictment of Modi Government” then are now finding it difficult to accept the decision of the high-powered committee in which the CJI also favoured the removal of Alok Verma.
Doubt: Alok Verma was removed as CBI chief just because he had a tussle with Special Director Rakesh Asthana. Is this fair?
Answer: That is obviously not the reason for Alok Verma’s removal from his post. He is facing grave charges of corruption against him. While hearing the petition in November 2018, Supreme Court had indeed acknowledged that some charges against Alok Verma by Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) were indeed “very uncomplimentary”. Reportedly, the committee has taken note of the seriousness of some of these charges before removing Alok Verma from the CBI chief post. Those reported cases are as follows.
- In the IRCTC case involving Lalu Prasad Yadav, CVC allegedly found that Alok Verma deliberately excluded some names from the FIR.
- CVC noted ‘doubtful behaviour’ of Alok Verma with regard to the cases pertaining to Moin Qureshi, a meat exporter against whom cases of tax evasion and hawala transactions are pending.
- CVC reportedly opined that further investigations against Alok Verma are needed with regard to his association with Haryana land scam accused.
Doubt: Alok Verma was not given an opportunity to be heard before the decision.
Answer: This notion is also wrong. It may be noted that Alok Verma was given an opportunity to present his case before the CVC, in presence of Retd. Justice Patnaik. Supreme Court also provided a copy of the CVC report to Verma’s advocate. The mandate of the Selection Panel headed by PM is limited to the appointment of CBI chief, and transfer of CBI chief. The committee has recommended the transfer of Alok Verma as CBI Chief, obviously since the person who is facing allegations himself may not be the right one to be at the helm of the premier investigating agency while the cases against him being investigated. That is why, Alok Verma has been made DG, Fire Services, Civil Defence, and Home Guards.