The removal of CBI Director Alok Verma by a high-powered committee chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi set off a political storm on Thursday. The Congress alleged that the Prime Minister is “desperate to appoint a pliant CBI director” and that “fear is now rampaging through” his mind. The BJP hit back, accusing the Opposition party of trying to discredit the CVC and its findings and saying that “those who demolish institutions and continue to attack them should not give pretentious lessons to the PM or the BJP”.
“Fear is now rampaging through Mr Modi’s mind. He can’t sleep. He stole 30,000Cr from the IAF and gave it to Anil Ambani. Sacking the CBI Chief #AlokVerma twice in a row, clearly shows that he is now a prisoner of his own lies. Satyamev Jayate,” Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted.
Senior party leader Anand Sharma told reporters that the “disturbing developments” have further dented the CBI as an institution and as an organisation “which in any case has been deliberately wrecked by the Prime Minister, the PMO and the BJP government.”
“They are uncomfortable with an independent CBI, with the authority under law, to investigate or probe any matter, any person in high authority and to act according to the law for any act of omission, commission or irregularity. The Supreme Court restores the CBI director and the Prime Minister, who apparently is in panic, disposes of the director again. If there was nothing to hide, if the Prime Minister is not worried over any matter, then the CBI director should have been allowed to complete his charge,” Sharma said.
The Congress argued that there are “no substantiated allegations” against Verma and that had there been any, the Supreme Court would have taken action. “Of the charges that are referred to in the CVC report, six are outrightly false…that is what the Supreme Court has also found unsubstantiated and the rest merely circumstantial. There is no question mark on the integrity of the person or no pecuniary benefits that is to the best of our knowledge. Principles of natural justice demanded that the CBI director was given a copy of this report, he was called in person by the committee to give his own version and to clarify his position,” Sharma said.
The Congress claimed Verma’s removal was not only a “gross miscarriage of justice” but a travesty that “we have a situation where even the basic canons of natural justice have been thrown to the winds by none else but a committee chaired by the Prime Minister.”
“Clearly the Prime Minister is desperate to appoint a pliant CBI director. He is definitely buying future security and the very fact that the same CVC who has acted in a highly objectionable and questionable manner, who himself is under dark clouds of suspicion about his motives will be recommending the panel for the appointment of the next CBI director,” he added.
Sharma further said, “We can only say that the brazenness with which the Prime Minister has gone about this matter raises more questions than any acceptable answers which the country was waiting for… Time will come when a successor government will appoint an independent commission to investigate this entire episode and to fix accountability under law (against) who have fabricated, collaborated and become partners in destroying the CBI.”
Countering the charge, BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said, “How can it be said that Verma was not given a chance to be heard? In fact he got two specific opportunities. Firstly to present his case before the CVC and that too in the presence of Retd. Justice Patnaik who was appointed by the Supreme Court. And thereafter did not the Supreme Court also provide a copy of the CVC report to Verma’s advocate? Let’s not confuse the issue. The mandate of the Selection Panel headed by Prime Minister is limited only to appointment and transfer of the CBI chief…It’s clear the allegation of the Congress party is not borne by facts.” Railway Minister Piyush Goyal took a dig at Mallikarjun Kharge, the Opposition member in the committee, who gave a dissent note objecting to Verma’s removal. “Indeed, Mr. Mallikarjun Kharge is a man of amazing consistency. When Shri Alok Verma was appointed CBI chief by the selection committee, he dissented. Now, when Shri Alok Verma has been removed by the same Selection Committee, he has dissented,” he tweeted.