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‘Probe Alok Verma for bribery,’ says CVC report that cost him CBI’s top job

The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) in its inquiry report recommended a criminal probe against ousted CBI director Alok Verma terming his conduct suspicious in the Moin Qureshi case, said an official familiar with the details of the report who asked not to be named.

The commission, chief vigilance commissioner KV Chowdary and two vigilance commissioners, Sharad Kumar and TM Bhasin, also said he tried to induct “tainted” officials in the agency despite adverse reports on them from his own officials.

Vigilance commissioner Sharad Kumar briefed the PM-led selection panel on Wednesday on the inquiry conducted by the vigilance commission, the official added.

Also Read | Congress’ Mallikarjun Kharge gives dissent note on Alok Verma’s removal as CBI chief

Sharad Kumar didn’t respond to phone call and messages seeking comment.

The main inquiry report ran into around 60 pages, with an additional 200 pages of annexures. According to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be named, the report lists around 10 charges against Verma, of which it found substance in five, said two needed further investigation, and couldn’t substantiate three.

The inquiry was conducted on the basis of a complaint from CBI special director Rakesh Asthana to cabinet secretary PK Sinha on August 24 . Sinha forwarded the complaint to CVC . Verma was first removed as the CBI chief on October 23 on the charges of not cooperating with CVC in its inquiry. Verma challenged his removal in the Supreme Court which asked CVC to conduct an inquiry on the basis of Asthana’s complaint and submit a report.

While ordering his conditional reinstatement on Tuesday, the top court asked the selection panel consisting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Justice of India (CJI) or a SC judge nominated by him (CJI nominated Justice AK Sikri) and senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge (in his capacity as leader of the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha), to consider the report and take a call on Verma.

The selection panel met for the first time on Wednesday at 8pm but the meeting remained inconclusive.

The panel met again on Thursday and decided by a majority decision to oust Verma as the CBI chief.

Asthana, in his complaint, alleged that as director of the agency, Verma tried to save a Hyderabad-based businessman Sana Satish Babu in the Moin Qureshi case in return for a bribe of Rs 2 crore.

“Verma’s conduct was considered suspicious by the vigilance panel. Though Sana Satish claimed before the CVC-led panel that two alleged middlemen were trying to extort money from him on behalf of Asthana, he was not considered a reliable witness due to variations in his statement. The CVC panel said a thorough criminal probe is required ,” said the official.

The second allegation against Verma was about his efforts to induct into CBI, officials who had not received a clearance from his own agency.

“Two officials – Delhi police special commissioner RP Upadhyay and UP cadre IPS officer Rajiv Krishna – were not cleared by the CBI’s special unit, which looks into the record of the officials, for induction. In Upadhyay’s case, it was Verma who, as the Delhi police chief, recommended his name for induction into CBI; later, as CBI chief despite adverse report from the internal vigilance unit, Verma pushed for his induction into the agency. Verma’s conduct was considered unbecoming of a government servant in this regard,” added the official.

Also Read | Back in charge of CBI, Alok Verma scraps transfer orders of interim director

The CVC-led panel also found that Verma tried to save an accused from being named in the FIR in the IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation) case against former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad, the official said. It is alleged that the railways leased two IRCTC hotels by flouting norms when Prasad was railway minister.

“CBI’s own files showed that despite recommendations from the investigation officer to all his supervisory officials, the then IRCTC director was not named in the FIR due to objections from Verma although the record showed the official had material role in the altering the lease conditions that helped other accused,” said the official.

Asthana also alleged that in April, 2016, the Delhi police officials posted at the airport were instructed to escort a passenger out of the airport but, on inspection, this person was found to be in possession of old.

Asthana also said in his complaint that Rs 36 crore exchange hands over a preliminary enquiry registered by CBI  in connection with a land acquisition case in Gurugram.

“CBI’s own record showed that the agency mysteriously kept asking for extension in time to complete probe and kept the matter pending,” added the official.

First Published: Jan 10, 2019 23:09 IST

Source: HindustanTimes