The Central government’s unprecedented move of removing the two top bosses of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has raised speculations of an alleged link to the controversial Rafale deal. The Opposition Congress accused the Narendra Modi government of interfering in the investigating agency’s working and wondered if its Director Alok Verma was “sacked” for his keenness to investigate the “layers of corruption” in the Rafale scam and also termed the move illegal and unconstitutional.
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Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the Modi government has put the “last nail” in the independence of the CBI by removing Verma.
“Has the CBI Director been sacked for his keenness to probe the layers of corruption in Rafale Scam? Isn’t the rest a shoddy cover up? Let PM answer,” Surjewala said in a tweet.
Modi Govt buries the ‘last nail’ into the independence of CBI.— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) October 24, 2018
Systematic dismantling & denigrating of CBI is now complete.
Once a premier investigating agency, PM ensures that CBI’s integrity, credibility & reliability is ‘buried & dead’. 1/n pic.twitter.com/11b451jYBV
The Congress on its official Twitter handle asked, “Why has the government removed CBI Director Alok Verma of his charge and sealed his offices? Who are they protecting and what are they hiding?”
According to a report in The Wire, Verma was selected by a high-powered collegium including the Chief of Justice of India for a protected tenure “not less than two years” that ends in January 2019 and was readying himself to initiate a preliminary enquiry in to the Modi government’s controversial decision to purchase 36 Rafale aircraft from Dassault Aviation.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi said that CBI Director Alok Verma was collecting evidence against the Rafale deal and he was sent on a forceful vacation. By removing him, PM Modi has made it clear that everything around the Rafale deal will be destroyed.
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Surjewala alleged in a tweet: “Scared of the Rafale Scam probe, Modi ji is killing India’s premier investigation agency. Officers are being removed in hordes and fascism prevails. Can’t save the sinking ’Sultanate’ by it. Modiji, why are you so scared of the Rafale probe,” he tweeted.
On the unceremonious ousting of the director way ahead of its term, Congress leader Manish Tewari said that according to the Lokpal Act and the Supreme Court judgment in the Jain Hawala case, the CBI director has a fixed tenure of two years. “Government cannot curtail tenure/take interim measures without a meeting of Committee consisting of PM, CJI and leader of Opposition/single largest party,” he posted on Twitter.
In terms of both Lok Pal Act & Supreme Court Judgment in Jain Hawala case-Director CBI has a fixed tenure of 2 years.Govt can not curtail tenure/take interim measures without a meeting of Committee consisting of PM,CJI & leader of Opposition/single largest party.Prima Facie ?able pic.twitter.com/89GowQg6Jh— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) October 24, 2018
Nageshwar Rao, who has replaced Verma as acting director, is the first IG-level official ever to be chief of the CBI. According to a report in The Wire, Verma wanted action against him too but the Modi-appointed Chief Vigilance Commissioner, KV Chowdhary resisted. Rao’s first decisions have been to move the officials who were investigating Asthana out of headquarters.