Verma, whom the government swiftly moved as director general (fire services and home guards), a rather unenviable station in the police set-up, also faces an investigation, including for criminal charges. Nageswara Rao, who worked as interim chief when Verma was on the bench, will officiate as the director until the government finds a replacement, an exercise which should take up to 10 days.
A high-level committee, led by PM Narendra Modi and including Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge and SC judge A K Sikri, recommended Verma’s removal by a 2:1 split order, with the opposition leader submitting a dissent note + arguing for the continuation of Verma. Kharge contended that the curbs that the SC had imposed on the IPS officer when it brought him back as the agency chief on Tuesday should be removed.
Verma guilty of graft, misled us in Asthana case: CVC
The apex court had on Tuesday asked the PM-led panel to decide within a week on whether CBI chief Alok Verma could be allowed to continue until January 31, when he superannuates, in view of the CVC’s findings.
The decision which sparked protests from Congress and is sure to further inflame its fight with the government was taken on the basis of the findings of a probe conducted by the Central Vigilance Commission which investigated the charges against the IPS officer under the supervision of retired SC judge A K Patnaik.
The vigilance body, which submitted its findings to an SC bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, found Verma guilty on five of the 10 alleged instances of corruption, criminal misconduct, interference in sensitive cases, shielding big defaulters and other offences.
The CVC also said Verma misled the vigilance body when he said that the agency was probing his factional rival Rakesh Asthana for his role in the Sterling Biotech case, besides finding him guilty of seeking to induct officers of doubtful integrity in CBI.
The CVC rejected two allegations as unsubstantiated, but held that three others required to be investigated in detail. Sources said that the high-level committe held that “Verma had not functioned with the integrity expected of the head of a sensitive organisation”.
Although Verma’s new post is one of the 15 DG-rank positions at the Centre, it is quite a fall for the officer, who, after a sedate career spanning decades, made headlines by tussling with his deputy, special director Rakesh Asthana. “It is defrocking,” said a senior IPS officer who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The PM-led high-level panel derives its mandate from the Supreme Court order which sought to innoculate the CBI chief from political interference. The CJI Gogoi-led bench held that the government was required to take the prior consent of the panel for even sending the director on leave.