Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, the lone dissenting voice in the high-powered selection committee that decided to oust CBI Director Alok Verma, appeared for Thursday’s meeting with a “note” questioning the findings of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) report against Verma and arguing why he should be restored with “full extent and authority of powers” under his office.
In the note, Kharge also demanded that Verma be allowed to continue as CBI Director for an additional period of 77 days to make up for the days lost when he was sent on leave.
Kharge’s note included a purported sequence of events that, he alleged, showed how the Prime Minister’s Office and the National Security Advisor played a role in the events that took place between 8 pm on October 23 and the early hours of October 24, 2018, during which Verma was divested of his powers and M Nageswara Rao asked to charge as interim chief.
The Congress leader demanded an investigation into the sequence of events and expressed the fear that there was a “conspiracy at the highest levels of the Government with statutory authorities being found complicit”. which appears to be part of a “pre-meditated decision” to remove Verma “with reasons and processes being manufactured as an afterthought.”
Kharge’s note states: “Having examined the contents of the CVC report, it is my considered opinion that Alok Verma be allowed to explain himself before this Committee, along with the charges made against him, prior to any decision being taken.”
However, Kharge’s note includes a summary of the CVC’s charges and findings against shows that while six out of the ten allegations in the CVC report against Verma are “unsubstantiated/false”, four were found to be “prima facie substantiated and on the basis of circumstantial evidence, found to be unflattering to Alok Verma”.
In the summary of the CVC’s charges and findings in Kharge’s note, the four cases “found to be unflattering” to Verma include: “exclusion of a suspect from being named as accused in an FIR – IRCTC case”; “inordinate delay in finalizing investigation report in bank fraud case against main accused, indicating favouritism towards the main accused”; “failure to take action in gold smuggling case at IGI Airport”; “attempts to induct tainted officers into CBI”.
However, the note also states: “In the four cases where the CVC returns unflattering conclusions, even they admit that there is no proof of any monetary benefit, no unimpeachable witnesses corroborating the story and the conclusion is arrived at on the basis of circumstantial evidence.”
Kharge’s note states that the other allegations were either not substantiated or needed further investigation: “tried to call off searches/raids in Patna” (IRCTC case); “influencing investigation by taking bribe”; “transfer of FIR related to Joint Director of the CBI”; “not taking action on certain intelligence inputs”; “illegal gratification in ongoing preliminary enquiry against land acquisition in Haryana”; “helping cattle smugglers as commandant of BSF”; “undue interference in CBI cases against ED officials”.
The note states: “While of course these allegations should be investigated further, as the CVC itself has stated, to suggest that these are on par with the very serious allegations levelled against Rakesh Asthana, for example, is incorrect. Furthermore, as the Supreme Court has itself held, mere allegations or circumstantial evidence cannot be the basis for finding a person guilty.”