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Friday, Oct 18, 2019

Make minutes of select panel’s meet on Alok Verma public: Kharge to Modi

In his letter to PM Modi, Kharge said that the government seemed to have already made up its mind on appointing an interim CBI director and it was not placed before the selection committee meeting on January 10.

india Updated: Jan 15, 2019 23:50 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji and Rajesh Ahuja
Saubhadra Chatterji and Rajesh Ahuja
Hindustan Times
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the ouster of Alok Verma from the CBI
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the ouster of Alok Verma from the CBI (PTI)
         

The Congress’s floor leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge has demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi immediately call a meeting of the selection committee to pick the next director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) because the interim director’s post “does not legally exist”.

In a two-page letter to Modi, dated January 14, Kharge accused the government of having made its mind up to appoint an interim director as that matter “was never placed before the selection committee” at the meeting held on January 10.

Taking a jibe at the government for being “scared of having CBI headed by an independent director”, Kharge added: “The government should come clean by releasing the Central Vigilance Committee report...

“...the report of Justice Patnaik and the minutes of the meeting held on January 10 so that the public can draw its own conclusion.”

Watch: Congress’s Mallikarjun Kharge takes on PM Modi over Alok Verma sacking

 

After the government divested then director of CBI Alok Verma of his powers on the intervening night of October 23 and 24 last year, the latter challenged it in the Supreme Court. The court asked CVC to investigate charges against Verma under the supervision of a retired judge, justice AK Patnaik. The court subsequently ruled that due process wasn’t followed — the director has a fixed term and has to be appointed or removed by a selection committee — but didn’t weigh in on the contents of the CVC report.

Opinion | Alok Verma has rekindled our sense of dharma

The selection committee, comprising the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India’s representative justice AK Sikri, and Kharge, met on January 10 and removed Verma, although Kharge dissented. He demanded that Verma be given a chance to explain and defend himself, but he was overruled.

The Congress leader’s letter comes in the wake of the recent revelation by former Supreme Court judge justice Patnaik who said no “allegations of corruption” were made against Verma by a witness, as had been claimed by his deputy, Rakesh Asthana .

Justice Patnaik also asserted that the findings of the vigilance commission enquiry report were not his.

Kharge cited media reports where Patnaik has said that “what CVC said can’t be the final word” and termed the action of the committee “very, very hasty”. “Such huge embarrassment could have been avoided if the committee had decided to independently examine the CVC report, the report of Justice Patnaik, the submission of Alok Verma in his defence and draw its own conclusions,” Kharge wrote. He also emphasised that such a panel “should not take a decision merely on a report without vetting it and applying its own mind.”

“It is unfortunate that the manipulative actions of the government are directly responsible for causing deep embarrassment to the judiciary,” Kharge added.

Verma’s sacking as the CBI chief came following a preliminary inquiry conducted by the CVC, which indicted him on at least four out of 10 counts under consideration.

Verma and his deputy Asthana were engaged in an internecine war that roiled CBI. They levelled allegations of corruption against each other — Asthana through an August letter to the cabinet secretary and Verma through a first information report that the agency registered against Asthana in October. The government eventually decided to divest both of their powers and send them on a forced leave of absence.

 

First Published: Jan 15, 2019 12:48 IST

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