Rafale deal: CBI chief Alok Verma says Modi govt interfered when probes didn’t suit Centre

CBI director Alok Verma has accused the government of interfering with the independence and autonomy of the investigating agency. He stated in the SC that ‘divesting’ him of powers was ‘illegal’

Rafale deal: CBI chief Alok Verma says Modi govt interfered when probes didn’t suit Centre

NH Web Desk

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director Alok Verma has accused the government of interfering with the independence and autonomy of the investigating agency. In his plea at the Supreme Court, Verma stated that divesting him of his powers “overnight” by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) and the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) was “patently illegal” and sought to quash the order.

He suggested that the government may not be in agreement with the course of CBI probe into cases relating to some "high functionaries".

The synopsis and the list of dates appended to the petition, Verma said as an IPS official with an unblemished record for over 35 years, he was appointed Director of CBI for a statutory two-year term in January 2017.

"However, as the CBI is expected to function completely independently and autonomously, there are bound to be occasions when certain investigations into high functionaries do not take the direction that may be desirable to the government. Over the recent past, although all functionaries within the CBI from the investigating officer and the Superintending officers upto the Joint Director and the Director have agreed on a certain cause of action, the Special Director has been of different view,” stated Verma in the Supreme Court

"The hurdles posed by this individual have now been compounded by his complicity in concocting evidence to impune the reputation of the petitioner, which has led to separate RC (FIR) being registered by the CBI, which has been challenged by him in the High Court of Delhi," Verma said in the petition.

“As the CBI is expected to function completely independently and autonomously, there are bound to be occasions when certain investigations into high functionaries do not take the direction that may be desirable to the government,” said Alok Verma in the Supreme Court

Verma’s petition has asked to court to “give independence to CBI from the DoPT” as its latest move “seriously hinders the CBI’s independent functioning.” Not all influence exerted by a political government would be found “explicit or in writing.” “More often than not, it is tacit and requires considerable courage to withstand,” Verma claimed.

The director has also challenged the decision of the government by which joint director M Nageshwar Rao, a 1986-batch Odisha cadre Indian Police Service officer, has been given charge as head of the probe agency. According to him the DoPT could not have divested him of the powers without the mandate of the high-powered committee led by the Prime Minister and comprising the leader of the Opposition and chief justice of India. Under the law it is this committee that appoints and approves the transfer of a CBI director.

Recalling various SC judgements, Verma said the present actions give serious credence to the requirement that the agency be given independence from the DoPT. Any illegal interference of the present nature not only erodes the independence of the institution but also the morale of its officers, he added.

Verma’s petition was mentioned by advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan before a bench led by chief justice Ranjan Gogoi on Wednesday, October 24. Investigating officers of sensitive cases are being changed, which may jeopardize a probe into many sensitive cases, he said. The court agreed with his request for an early hearing and listed the matter for Friday, October 25.

Earlier this month, Verma had met Arun Shourie, Prashant Bhushan and Yashwant Sinha when they had filed a complaint about corruption in the Rafale deal. Sources have said that him meeting the trio, who have been critical of the Modi government, had angered the Centre.

The Opposition has alleged that Verma was sent on leave because the agency was raising questions over Rafale and that he had asked for documents of the fighter jet deal

For all the latest India News, Follow India Section.