Bengaluru: Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge on Saturday termed as a ‘mistake’ the removal of Alok Verma as CBI director and accused the government of “destroying” the premier investigating agency.
Kharge, who is a member of the Selection Committee headed by the prime minister which shunted out Verma from CBI, said he was not given a chance to present his side. Kharge had submitted a dissent note before the committee questioning the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) findings against Verma. Interestingly, Kharge had expressed his opposition even when the selection committee decided to appoint Verma as CBI Chief two years back.
“The Modi government does not hold any moral authority. They are doing wrong and destroying the institution,” Kharge told ANI here.
“The government has again done a mistake. Earlier they did a mistake by removing the (CBI) Director without even calling a meeting. Even after calling the meeting, the papers that were supposed to be kept in front of the committee were not presented. They took action only on the basis of the CVC report. I asked in the committee why Patnaik’s report was not there. I asked for Alok Verma’s statement on the matter. Then it came forward that everything is there in the CVC report,” said Kharge, the leader of the Congress party in Lok Sabha.
He added, “Before the meeting, I read the CVC report. I raised concerns over issues in that, but despite all that the process of removing him (CBI Director) was carried forward. We are not in favour of anybody. We want that we should follow the rules made by us. There is no question in defending Alok Verma. The question is on what procedures he was appointed and on what procedures he was removed. You don’t remove anybody only on the basis of somebody’s allegation. You need to decide after hearing others too.”
Defending himself over lending support to Verma, Kharge said, “In court, we don’t hang a person before listening the allegations and the defence. But here nothing like this happened. People will say me you should not do it – first you opposed him (Alok Verma) and now you are supporting him. But, you should understand that the reasons are different.”
He added, “At that time, the person I supported had worked in the agency for a minimum of 18 years. You didn’t listen to me then. After appointing him, now when you are removing him through wrong ways, then committee has the authority to speak there. Should we stay quiet? Patnaik has said the same thing what I wanted to say that there is nothing in the enquiry.”
Not just Verma’s exit, Kharge also questioned the Centre over M. Nageshwar Rao’s appointment as interim director.
“They have done another mistake. They didn’t ask the committee before appointing Nageshwar Rao as interim Director. He is not even eligible. It’s okay if you want your man to be place in the office. These things were not put in front of Sikri and me. I don’t need to defend any person. I only defend judiciary, rules as per the Delhi Special Police Act.”
According to sources, the CVC found evidence of influencing of investigation in the Moin Qureshi case. There was also evidence of Verma taking bribe of Rs. 2 crore, the sources claimed.
The CVC was of the view that Verma’s conduct in the case was “suspicious,” and there was a “prima facie case” against him. The CVC also felt that the “entire truth will come out if a criminal investigation is ordered.”
In the IRCTC case, the CVC felt that it can be reasonably concluded that Verma allegedly “deliberately excluded” a name from the FIR, for reasons “best known to him,” the sources said.
The CVC found evidence against Verma in several other cases as well, the sources said, including instances of wilful non-production and fabrication of record. The Committee also took note of Verma’s alleged attempts to induct officers of doubtful integrity in the CBI.
Verma, a 1979-batch IPS officer, was posted as DG, Fire Services, Civil Defence, and Home Guards, two days after he was reinstated as the CBI Director by the Supreme Court. His reinstatement had come about two-and-a-half months after being divested of his powers and sent on leave by the government.