In an unprecedented move, the high-powered committee led by the Prime Minister that met on Thursday to decide on the fate of CBI director Alok Verma decided to remove him from the post on charges of corruption and dereliction of duty.
The decision, which was based on a report by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) that listed eight charges against the agency’s chief, makes Verma the first CBI director to face such an action. Verma has been asked to take over as D-G, Delhi Fire Services and Home Guard.
The move came just a day after Verma returned to take charge based on a Supreme Court order after he was sent on leave on October 23, 2018, following a bitter spat with his No. 2 Rakesh Asthana. While both the officers were sent on leave, Verma won a favourable ruling in the SC and Asthana’s plea comes up for a verdict in the Delhi High Court on Friday.
The high-powered selection committee — it comprised the Prime Minister, Supreme Court Justice AK Sikri representing CJI Ranjan Gogoi, and leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge — took a majority decision to remove Verma, with Kharge opposing the move.
After taking charge on Wednesday, Verma had reinstated “with immediate effect” key officers considered close to him, who were moved out after he was sent on leave. A key return on Verma’s orders was that of AK Sharma, a Gujarat-cadre officer, who returned to the important post of joint director (policy).
The other significant comeback was that of Anish Prasad as DIG of SU-1 (Surveillance) unit, who had been transferred to the administration and personnel department.
Among the others reinstated were DIG MK Sinha, additional SP SS Gurm, and DySPs AK Bassi and Ashwani Gupta. Last November, in his plea in the Supreme Court against his transfer, Sinha had accused national security advisor Ajit Doval of interference in cases against Asthana.
Most of these officers were probing corruption charges against Asthana based on an FIR that he had demanded and received Rs 3 crore in bribe through conduits. Asthana, who was also sent on leave along with Verma, has denied the charges.
On Thursday, before the selection committee met, Verma appointed SP-ranked IPS officer Mohit Gupta to probe Asthana but did not make any changes in officers supervising the case. MK Sinha sought to recuse himself from taking charge of the case, officials said.