Congress leader calls for Verma’s tenure to be extended and says that even the charges against him that need a probe are not significant.
New Delhi: The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) report submitted to the Supreme Court “does not arrive at any conclusive or substantial findings with respect to allegations against” CBI director Alok Verma, reads the dissent note filed by Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge.
Kharge, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Supreme Court judge, Justice A.K. Sikri, made up the three-member panel which was to decide on Verma’s tenure at the investigating agency.
The Congress leader was the lone dissenting voice in the panel’s decision to remove Verma from his post. He called the entire exercise as a “furtherance of a premeditated decision to remove Verma as CBI director with the reasons and processes being manufactured as an afterthought”.
Kharge’s note also called for reinstating Verma, saying that the Supreme Court “has clearly and compellingly stated that the order passed by the CVC dated 23 October 2018,” divesting Verma of his powers “was illegal and without authority and hence there should be no alternative but to restore Verma’s authority” to ensure the independence and neutrality of the CBI.
ThePrint takes a look at his dissent note.
‘Extend Verma’s tenure’
In his five-page note, Kharge states that the 23 October CVC order, which sent Verma on forced leave, was “void and illegal” and thus, not only should he be reinstated, but also compensated for the loss by through the extending of his tenure by 77 days.
“His tenure of two years must be completed by allowing him to continue as CBI Director for an additional period of 77 days, which is the number of days lost by him on account of the patently illegal orders of CVC and DoPT dated 23 October 2018,” the note says.
Kharge further mentions that the CVC report submitted to the Supreme Court “does not arrive at any conclusive or substantial findings with respect to allegations against Verma”.
‘Most corruption charges not substantiated’
Kharge’s note states that the CVC was looking into 10 allegations against Verma but adds that after investigations, most of them were found to be unsubstantiated.
“Of the 10 allegations, six are found to be unsubstantiated or false,” the note says. “Four are found to be in need of further investigation as an inconclusive finding has been arrived at.”
“Four (of these cases) are found to be prima facie substantiated and on the basis of circumstantial evidence, found to be unflattering to Alok Verma,” the note adds.
Kharge further stated that in the four cases where the CVC returns unflattering conclusions, even it admits that there is no proof of any pecuniary benefit, no unimpeachable witnesses corroborating the story and the conclusion has been arrived at on the basis of circumstantial evidence.
‘Charges not serious’
Kharge, however, maintains that while these allegations should be investigated further, to suggest that they are very serious is incorrect.
The Congress leader notes that mere allegations or circumstantial evidence cannot be the basis for finding a person guilty, adding that charges against Verma were not of sufficient significance.
Kharge’s note adds that the charges against Verma did not even warrant an inquiry by the Supreme Court.
“It may be noted that the SC had first asked for the CVC to submit its report on the charges against Verma in a sealed envelope.
“After having reviewed the same, SC decided to confine itself to the legal validity of the orders of the CVC and DoPT dated 23 October 23 2018,” reads the note.
“This fortifies my presumption as brought out above that the CVC report does not contain sufficient material particulars to prevent or disqualify Verma from being restored to full authority.”
The 10 charges and CVC’s findings on them
Kharge’s note contains findings by the CVC on 10 allegations made against Verma. The 10 include:
1 On allegations of Verma influencing investigations by taking bribes, the CVC report says that there is “no evidence of payment of bribe”, and that “further investigation required for verifying circumstantial evidence”.
2 On allegations of exclusion of a suspect from being named as accused in an FIR of the IRCTC case, the report says the “allegations are substantiated and amount to serious misconduct and warrant disciplinary and other actions”.
The second part of the allegation accuses Verma of attempting to call off searches and raids in Patna, which the CVC report concludes are “not substantiated”.
3 On allegations of inordinate delay in finalising the investigation report against the main accused in a bank fraud case, the report says “allegation found to be correct”.
4 On transfer of FIR related to joint director, CBI, the CVC report says “allegations not substantiated”.
5 On allegations of not taking action on certain intelligence inputs, the report says “allegations not substantiated”.
6 On alleged illegal gratification in ongoing preliminary enquiry against land acquisition in Haryana, the report says, “Allegations not substantiated, further enquiry will be required.”
7 On allegation of failure to take action in a gold smuggling case at IGI airport, the report says, “Allegation partially substantiated; recommended to be re-investigated by a different branch of CBI.”
8 On allegations of helping cattle smugglers involving a BSF commandant posted in Murshidabad, West Bengal, the report says, “Allegations not substantiated.”
9 On allegations of attempts to induct tainted officers into CBI, the report says, “Allegations found to be substantiated.”
10 On allegations of undue interference in CBI cases against Enforcement Directorate officials, the report says the “allegations have either not been substantiated or require further investigation”.
Hear Verma out, says Kharge
Kharge note stated that the committee should not arrive at a conclusion without hearing Verma or examining the response submitted by him to the CVC report.
In his note, Kharge said that the high-powered committee must order an investigation into the events of the early hours of 23 October 2018 as there were too many “coincidences and unexplained events” that took that night, which clearly raises doubts over the government’s intentions to remove Verma.
Kharge reproduced a list of detailed events that took place on that day and raised questions over CVC K.V. Chowdary calling a late-night meeting, the Delhi police commissioner allegedly calling his subordinates to Khan Market and alerting them about a potential midnight operation and the national security adviser’s orders to “take over the CBI headquarters”.