CBI case hearing today: Will the Supreme Court reinstate Alok Verma?

The Supreme Court will hear the case against the CBI chief Alok Verma on Friday based on the investigation report of the Central Vigilance Commission

Umakant Lakhera

The Supreme Court will hear the case against the CBI chief Alok Verma on Friday, November 16, based on the investigation report of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC). His subordinate special director Rakesh Asthana had alleged corruption.

Congress leader and Member of Parliament Mallikarjun Kharge and senior advocate Prashant Bhushan have also filed separate petitions in Supreme court in the ongoing CBI feud. Combining all these petitions, the Supreme Court has to take a decision on the basis of investigation done in the case.

The scope of investigation of the CVC has been restricted to allegations of corruption by Rakesh Asthana on Alok Verma. On the basis of the facts of the investigation, the Supreme Court will decide whether to restore Verma to his post or not. It should be noted that the government has sent Alok Verma Verma on leave and given the interim charge to controversial IPS officer Nageshwar Rao.

The CVC sources have already indicated that nothing substantial could be found against Alok Verma. Asthana had alleged that Verma had taken a bribe of Rs two crore from a meat businessman Moin Qureshi.

CBI chief Verma has entrusted Arun Kumar Sharma with the responsibility of CBI probe against Asthana. Both Asthana and Sharma are IPS officers of Gujarat cadre.

The internal feud of the CBI is also a cause for concern for the government as Alok Verma had started the process of investigating some very sensitive issues involving many people in the Modi government. There were also complaints on his desk about the inquiry against some top officials in the Prime Minister's Office. Apart from this, Verma had already begun investigations into the complaints of corruption in the Rafale deal.

This had unnerved the PMO. Special Director Rakesh Asthana, taking advantage of his close relationship with the PMO, intervened to attempt to remove Verma.

Alok Verma has challenged his removal in the Supreme Court, saying that the Modi government's order to be sent him on force leave last month was completely illegal. Verma has alleged that since he was conducting investigations in several sensitive cases in the CBI, a conspiracy was hatched to remove him from the post. Both Verma and Asthana were sent on leave on the midnight of October 23. Confidential files of many important matters were withdrawn from his office and his office was sealed at the CBI headquarters.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan has said in his petition that instead of removing Rakesh Asthana against whom there is evidence of corruption, Alok Verma was removed. He said that the Central Government or the CVC does not have any legal right to remove them before the end of the fixed term.

The government said in its reply to Verma's plea in the Supreme Court that in order to save the image of the CBI due to the pending serious matters on him, the government had to send Asthana also on leave, who has accused Verma, for the sake of administrative reasons.

Supreme Court adjourned the hearing on Monday against allegations of Asthana on Alok Verma in as the CVC did not submit the report to the court in time. Chief Justice Gogoi had rebuked the CVC for this. The Supreme Court had instructed the CVC to complete its investigation within two weeks under the monitoring of retired judge AK Patnaik.

Congress leader Kharge has challenged the authority of the Central Government to send CBI boss Alok Verma on leave. Since Kharge is a member of the panel which selects the CBI Chief along with the Prime Minister and Chief Justice, he has demanded that Alok Verma be reinstated, alleging arbitrary interference in the functioning of the CBI chief as an abrogation of his rights.

Also, Additional Director of CBI Arun Kumar Sharma filed a petition in Delhi High Court this week seeking permission to furnish proof of corruption against Asthana. However, the court has told them to present all the evidence before the CBI's respective investigating officer. It is to be known that Asthana asked for protection from the High Court till November 28. It has been alleged that Asthana had in fact reportedly taken bribe from meat businessman Moin Qureshi through a middleman.

It is to be informed that the CBI chief Verma had entrusted Arun Kumar Sharma with the responsibility of CBI probe against Asthana. Both Asthana and Sharma are Gujarat cadre IPS officers.

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