NEW DELHI: Hours after Congress president Rahul Gandhi alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in a “tearing hurry” to sack CBI chief Alok Verma and not allow him to make his case before the selection committee because he was afraid “facts” about the contentious Rafale deal would tumble out, the PM-led committee shunted Verma out, once again.
The dramatic events transpired even as Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge turned in a six-page dissent note, arguing that Verma should not only be given a chance to “explain himself” over the charges made against him before the committee decided on the matter, but also that his tenure be extended for an additional 77 days — the number of days he lost on account of “patently illegal orders of CVC and DoPT dated October 23, 2018”.
Kharge presented the note before the Prime Minister-led selection committee before it prevailed over his suggestions. The Congress leader said the CVC report against Verma was lacking in “substantial findings” and that the officer should be restored to “full powers” enjoyed by the office of director CBI.
Citing the Supreme Court judgment that “clearly and compellingly” stated that the CVC order was “illegal and without authority”, Kharge also questioned the role of CVC KV Chowdhury, demanding that the events that transpired in the early hours of October 23, 2018 — the night Verma was unceremoniously transferred out — be subject to an “independent investigation”.
Kharge said, “There are too many coincidences and unexplained events that took place in the late hours of October 23, 2018, which clearly indict the present government qua the malice and mala fides apparent in the summary removal of the now reinstated CBI Director, Alok Verma, and appointing an interim CBI director in his place.”
He was referring to Chowdhury’s allegedly “abrupt and preemptive” cancellation of a trip to Denmark to hold a late night meeting on October 23, deputing M Nageshwar Rao, then joint director CBI, to the agency’s headquarters in “anticipation” of the CVC orders, and a meeting of the Delhi police commissioner with his subordinates in Delhi’s Khan Market to “alert them to potential midnight operations”. The senior Congress leader also alleged the Delhi Commissioner of Police received orders from the National Security Advisor to “take over the CBI headquarters”.
Mounting a frontal attack on the government, Congress MP Anand Sharma questioned Chowdhury’s ability to set up a panel to appoint to next CBI chief, in a fair and transparent manner. “The same CVC who is under a cloud for his role in the removal of the CBI director and whose actions have been held to be illegal and lacking constitutional authority by the Supreme Court is going to set up the panel for the appointment of the next CBI director. The entire process stands vitiated,” Sharma said.
In their all-round attack on the Modi government, Congress also criticised Verma’s removal on social media. “By removing #AlokVerma from his position without giving him the chance to present his case, PM Modi has shown once again that he’s too afraid of an investigation, either by an independent CBI director or by Parliament via JPC,” Congress said on its official Twitter handle.