CVC should have asked reason for my removal, says ex-CBI special director RK Dutta
In December 2016, three days before then CBI director Anil Sinha was to complete his tenure on December 2, 2016, the government shifted former CBI special director RK Dutta to a newly created post at the rank of special secretary in the Union home ministry.Updated: Oct 08, 2018 07:01 IST
As the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) gets down to reviewing the complaints and counter complaints filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) top two officers who have been warring since 2017, the agency’s former special director RK Dutta, once considered a shoo-in for the top job before being abruptly removed in late 2016 wants to know why the watchdog didn’t look into his removal.
CBI director Alok Verma and his special director Rakesh Asthana have levelled charges at each other in these complaints.
Dutta’s story starts in December 2016; three days before then CBI director Anil Sinha was to complete his tenure on December 2, 2016, the government shifted special director Dutta to a newly created post at the rank of special secretary in the Union home ministry.
After Sinha’s appointment, the government made then additional director Rakesh Asthana the acting chief as he became the senior-most officer following Dutta’s premature shifting from the CBI.
Dutta received his order shifting him out of CBI on November 30, 2016.
“A note had gone to CVC that I was to be shifted from CBI to the home ministry and CVC just followed the course. CVC was supposed to look into the reasons of my shifting. CVC’s role comes into play when someone is shifted or inducted. If someone is to be given extension in tenure or prematurely sent out of CBI, CVC again has a role. It cannot act in a mechanical manner. It needs to know whether there is something which warrants removal of an officer,” said Dutta.
India’s Central Vigilance Commisioner KV Chowdary declined comment. Dutta’s argument is that CVC enjoys superintendence over CBI, a role given to it by the Supreme Court. It is its job to ensure that right persons are inducted in the CBI, he added.
Following his transfer from CBI to the Union home ministry, Dutta decided to return to his parent cadre, Karnataka, as the state police chief from where he retired on October 31, 2017. His removal was challenged in the Supreme Court as well by way of a public interest litigation but government defended the move saying he was pulled out for an important assignment. The details of this assignment weren’t revealed; within a month of his removal from the CBI, though, Dutta decided to return to Karnataka.
“I had three stints in CBI spread over 19 years. I had been promoted as special director in 2016. I was the senior-most officer. I had handled sensitive assignments like the probes into 2G spectrum allotment, coal block allocations and AgustaWestland. I had all the qualifications to become CBI chief. But I was suddenly removed without being given any reason,” Dutta said. He also added that only officers who have worked in CBI at the level of superintendent of police (SP) should be considered for the top job.
Anil Sinha was inducted in the CBI in the rank of special director and then became director. His successor and the current director Alok Verma had no prior experience of working in the Central Bureau of Investigation. Following Dutta’s removal and a short stint of two months when Rakesh Asthana was the acting director, the government appointed Verma as next chief for two years from February 1, 2017. Verma was Delhi police commissioner then. Officials in CBI said on condition of anonymity that after taking charge as the agency’s chief, Verma recommended four officers for induction in CBI but their names were not cleared by the CVC-led body.
“Verma thought Asthana was behind the move to reject names of officials recommended by him,” said one of the officials.
That has now turned into full-blown war between the director and the special director. Asthana has represented to the cabinet secretary that Verma is targeting him unfairly and CBI has formally stated that Asthana is under scanner in around half-a-dozen cases being probed by the agency itself.
Dutta says the CBI director should have full independence over who he wants to serve in CBI. “The role of the CVC-led panel should be limited to see whether the names recommended by the director are suitable to serve in CBI by checking their professional competence and integrity,” says Dutta.
NR Wasan who retired as the chief of Bureau of Police Research and Development and worked in CBI for 18 years, agreed that there should be justifiable reasons for curtailment of tenure of a CBI officer.
“The committee should also see whether the request for curtailment has come from the officer concerned. Any recommendation for curtailment of tenure should not be forwarded mechanically,” he added.
First Published: Oct 08, 2018 06:59 IST