Verma has challenged the Centre’s decision to send him on leave following his bitter feud with CBI special director Rakesh Asthana
CBI director Alok Verma, currently on forced leave, has filed his response with the Supreme Court to the inquiry conducted against him by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) over allegations made by CBI special director Rakesh Asthana.
Verma has been accused by Asthana of corruption and stalling crucial investigations. The Supreme Court had, last month, granted the CVC to conduct an inquiry against Verma within two weeks under the supervision of the court’s retired judge, Justice AK Patnaik.
In his reply, submitted to the top court’s registry in a sealed envelope on Monday (November 19) afternoon, sources say, Verma has offered a point-by-point explanation, and rebuttal where needed, of all the findings made by the CVC. Sources told India Legal that Verma has also sought to turn the tables against Asthana, stating with the help of file notings and other key documents, that it was the CBI special director who was engaged in various corruption cases and that senior officials at the Centre, the Prime Minister’s Office and also the CVC were colluding to act against him while seeking to protect his deputy.
Earlier in the day, the top court had granted Verma and his legal team three more hours to file their reply to the CVC inquiry report – extending the deadline for the purpose from 1 pm to 4 pm. The bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph had made it clear that hearing in the petition filed by Verma challenging the Centre’s decision to divest him of his responsibilities as CBI chief would resume on Tuesday (November 20) as scheduled.
The assertion by the apex court had come after Verma’s lawyers approached the bench seeking an extension of the deadline. On November 16, the bench had given Verma time till Monday (November 19) to file his reply to the CVC inquiry.
It may be recalled that during the last hearing in the case, the court had said that the inquiry report was “exhaustive” with “very complimentary… not so complimentary… and very uncomplimentary” findings on some of the charges made out against Verma. It had dismissed the CVC and Centre’s objections to allow the CBI chief to get a copy of the probe report and file a counter reply to it for the bench’s perusal. The court had allowed copies of the inquiry report to be given to Verma, Attorney General KK Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta (appearing for the CVC) in a sealed cover and directed the CBI chief to file his reply “also in a sealed cover” by Monday while stating that the court will resume hearing in the case on November 20.
The CVC inquiry has investigated Verma under four broad categories and the court has already said that some of the aspects of the probe need further investigation.
While it is premature to comment on whether details of the CVC inquiry report and Verma’s response to it will be made public at the court hearing on Tuesday, sources say both documents would only escalate the ongoing crisis that has engulfed the country’s premier investigation agency over the past few months.
Verma’s response, sources close to him told India Legal, makes strong allegations that undermine the neutrality of the CVC in key investigations and also raise a finger at high-ranking officials in the Prime Minister’s Office, accusing them of meddling in the affairs of the CBI, particularly with regard to cases that involve political rivals of the ruling dispensation.
— India Legal Bureau