Justice AK Patnaik, who was assigned by the Supreme Court to supervise the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) inquiry against Alok Verma, said there was “no evidence of corruption” against the removed Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director, The Indian Express first reported on Saturday. He told the newspaper that the decision to remove Verma from the post of CBI director was "very, very hasty". Barely two days after the Supreme Court reinstated him, Verma was on Thursday removed as CBI director by a high-powered committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on charges of corruption and dereliction of duty, in an unprecedented action in the central probe agency's 55-year history.
Verma, a 1979-batch IPS officer, had resumed duty on Wednesday, a day after the apex court paved his return with some riders and asked the three-member panel that selects the CBI chief to decide on his continuance in a week in the light of charges against him in the report of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC). Verma's two-year tenure as director of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is due to end on January 31. There were eight charges against Verma in the CVC report presented before the Committee that also comprised leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and Justice AK Sikri, appointed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi as his nominee.
While Modi and Justice Sikri voted against Verma, Kharge filed a dissent note and contested the CVC report. He had also argued that Verma be given an opportunity to present his case before the selection committee.
Verma was transferred as Director General, Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guards on Thursday. On Friday, Verma refused to take up the new job and resigned from the Indian Police Service (IPS). In his resignation letter, Verma said: "Natural justice was scuttled and the entire process was turned upside down in ensuring that the undersigned is removed from the post of the director."
Justice Patnaik said the committee should have taken more time to decide Verma’s case as it pertained to a national institution. “Even if the Supreme Court said that the high-power committee must decide, the decision was very, very hasty,” he said. “They should have applied their mind thoroughly, especially as a Supreme Court judge was there. What the CVC says cannot be the final word.”
The Telegraph reported that Patnaik said he has written a letter to the Supreme Court to clarify that the findings of the CVC report are not his.
“My role was that of supervising the inquiry, and for that purpose, I just wanted to ensure that the principles of natural justice were followed and Sana’s [businessman Sathish Babu Sana, to whom was attributed the allegation that Verma had taken a bribe] evidence was recorded in my presence,” he wrote. “I ensured that the evidence was correctly recorded.”
Speaking on the controversy, former chief justice of India RM Lodha told The Indian Express that the parrot “cannot truly fly in the free sky till it is free”.
“The time has come when something needs to be done, and must be done, to ensure that the CBI truly becomes the premier investigating agency,” Justice Lodha (retired) said.
(With PTI inputs)