Once seen as the most powerful police boss in the country, Alok Verma, the former Director of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), is running from pillar to post, for the past several months, to seek his basic retirement benefits, including the General Provident Fund (GPF).
A 1979 batch IPS officer, Verma's entire past service was forfeited when in an unprecedented move, he challenged the government's decision of removing him from coveted post of CBI Director.
A confidential letter of Ministry of Home Affairs (dated October 14) reveals that the government held back Verma's GPF and other benefits as he went on unauthorised leave, considered a serious breach in government service.
The Home Ministry letter (45020/4/2019/) says: "Verma's matter was examined by the Ministry and it was decided to treat the period of absence of Shri Alok Verma from 11.01.2019 to 31.01.2019 as dies non."
In simpler words, the unauthorised leave of Verma is considered as a break in service, depriving him of his retirement benefits.
Verma had gone on leave when he was suddenly shunted out of the CBI at 2 am and made the Director General of Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guards -- seen as a clear demotion of a high-profile CBI Director.
Refusing to join the position, Verma resigned from the service on January 11, 2019.
Reports suggested that Alok Verma was about to take a decision whether the Rafale fighter jet deal with France -- in which the Opposition has accused the Modi government of indulging in corruption -- was a fit case for a probe by the CBI or not.
The decision was expected in a day or two when Verma was ousted from CBI in a past-midnight Cabinet order.
On October 4, 2018 former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, and lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan had written to Verma, the then CBI Director, seeking probe in the Rafale fighter jet deal between India and France.
The letter was sent to Alok Verma a day after a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi sought the details of the decision-making process related to the Rafale deal.
The Opposition smelled a rat in the unceremonious removal of Verma and alleged that this was done to prevent Verma from taking up probe into the Rafale deal.
Besides Rafale, there were a few other high-profile cases on Alok Verma's table at that time. The Wire has carried a detailed report on the Rafale link in Verma’s removal which can be read here: https://thewire.in/government/cbi-director-alok-vermas-request-for-rafale-papers-tipped-the-scale-against-him)
On Verma's much publicised serial fights with his subordinates in the CBI, which resulted in registration of cross FIRs against two opposing lobbies of officers, the Home Ministry has taken a serious view.
On holding back the GPF, the Ministry cited two separate disciplinary proceedings cases against Verma (vide chargesheet 31/01/19 and 18/04/19) which puts him in the dock.
Verma had allegedly used his office in registering an FIR against his subordinate Rakesh Asthana, the then Special Director of CBI. Asthana had, in turn, accused Verma of diluting a few important cases of corruption.
On the other hand, a lobby of officers close to Verma says that the GPF cannot be held back even if an employee is involved in any controversy or facing any investigation. According to them, GPF is a fund wherein the government employee contributes a certain percentage of his salary and the accumulated amount is paid to the employee at the time of superannuation or retirement.
Sources said that on this ground, Verma shot off a letter to the government on July 27 last, requesting it release the final payment of the GPF.
However, the Home Ministry, instead of releasing the payment, sought advice from the Department of Legal Affairs as to whether the GPF be paid to Verma. Instead of a clear cut advice, the Legal Department suggested that in the case, the Home Ministry should consult the Ministry of Labour and Department of Expenditure (Ministry of Finance).
The Home Ministry has now asked the Ministry of Labour and also of Finance to suggest whether the GPF could be paid to Verma. As of now, the decision on Verma's case relating to GPF and other benefits is pending with the Ministries concerned.