Vigilance report against CBI chief Alok Verma gave mixed findings, says SC
The vigilance probe against ousted CBI director Alok Verma has given “mixed” findings and indicated that some charges need to be investigated further, the Supreme Court said after examining the secret report given to the top court by the Central Vigilance Commission.
The report “can be categorised in four; very complimentary on some charges; not so on others; very uncomplimentary on some charges and some charges require further investigation,” Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said, summarising the CVC findings.
The top court has asked Alok Verma to file his response to these findings by Monday.
Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said it was considered necessary to seek his response “keeping in mind the need to preserve and maintain sanctity and public confidence in the said institution (CBI)”.
The government’s two top law officers, Attorney General VV Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehra will also get a copy of the inquiry report in a sealed cover. “Needless to say the reports directed to be furnished to the office of AG and SG will be treated with utmost confidentiality,” CJI Gogoi said.
The top court, in its October 31 order, had directed the CVC to probe corruption charges against the exiled CBI director under the supervision of retired Supreme Court judge AK Patnaik, and submit its report in two weeks. The commission, however, submitted the report a day late on November 16.
Besides the plea filed by Verma, the court is also seized of the public interest litigation or PIL filed by NGO Common Cause, which has sought a probe by a special investigation team against CBI officers.
The court has issued notices to the Centre, CBI, CVC, special CBI director Rakesh Asthana, Verma and Rao asking them to respond to it by November 12. The CVC had filed its preliminary enquiry report in the top court on November 12.
Alok Verma was divested of his responsibilities on the intervening night of October 23 and 24 after his running feud with his deputy Asthana threw the federal investigation agency into disarray.
Asthana wrote to the cabinet secretary on August 24, alleging Verma’s interference in sensitive cases and claiming that the director had taken a bribe. The cabinet secretary asked CVC to look into the matter.
On October 15, CBI, in turn, filed an FIR against Asthana accusing him of corruption.
Verma challenged the CVC order divesting him of his responsibilities before the Supreme Court, resulting in the Patnaik-monitored time-bound probe.
Both Verma and Asthana have appeared before CVC.
On October 26, the top court had appointed justice Patnaik to supervise the ongoing inquiry of CVC against Verma and also set a deadline of two weeks for the CVC to complete the preliminary inquiry against the CBI director.
The Supreme Court had issued notices to the Centre and the CVC seeking their replies on Verma’s petition challenging the government’s decision to divest him of his powers as CBI chief and sending him on leave.
Besides, it had barred Rao from taking any major policy decision but granted him liberty to perform routine tasks that are essential to keep the CBI functional.