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CBI ‘credibility dented’, ex-officers question CVC, say govt delayed action

CBI power shift: Some former IPS officers, some of whom headed the CBI, also blamed the government for allowing the two factions within CBI to level allegations against each other instead of taking concrete measures.

Written by Rahul Tripathi | New Delhi |
Updated: October 25, 2018 11:05:56 am
CBI ‘credibility dented’, ex-officers question CVC, say govt delayed action Rakesh Asthana’s New Delhi residence, on Wednesday. (Express Photo/Prem Nath Pandey)

After the government sent on leave CBI director Alok Verma and special director Rakesh Asthana, and made a joint director-level officer as interim chief, former CBI directors and senior IPS officers on Wednesday said the move, and the developments in the agency over the last few months, has severely dented the image of the premier investigating agency.

Some former IPS officers, some of whom headed the CBI, also blamed the government for allowing the two factions within CBI to level allegations against each other instead of taking concrete measures.

Former D-G and UP cadre IPS officer Prakash Singh said, “There is no doubt that the credibility of the organisation has been compromised but I am also disappointed the way the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) acted in the matter. As can be seen from today’s action, CVC has acted in a partisan manner – instead of resolving the issue, the (CBI) director and his deputy have been divested of their duties.”

Singh said the developments will “surely lead to temporary paralysis within the organisation (CBI) and demoralise the rank and file”.

Singh also blamed the government for mishandling the situation: “The treatment meted to the agency’s director at the behest of its number two is not the way to deal with an autonomous agency like CBI. The government has allowed both factions to fight in public for so long. The number two in the organisation has ended up dissolving the whole organisation.”

Also read | Opposition slams ‘illegal removal’ of CBI chief Alok Verma

While Verma and Asthana were sent on leave, additional director A K Sharma, a Gujarat cadre officer, was transferred to MDMA division. Sharma was handling the probe against Asthana, also a Gujarat cadre IPS.

R K Dutta, former CBI special director, who was the top contender for the post of CBI director in 2016 after Anil Sinha’s exit, questioned the selection process (for CBI officers) and said the blame squarely lies with the CVC. He said, “Some of these allegations pertain to prior selection. There is something wrong with the process of selection. The CVC is given the role of superintendence (supervision over CBI), and if that is the mandate of the (vigilance) commission, what was it doing for such a long time? Even in case of Asthana, the complaint by him (Verma) to the CVC was made in August. What was the CVC doing for so long on the complaint?

Maintaining that all this “shows the CVC in poor light”, Dutta said the government should have stepped in since this situation was brewing for more than a year. “This is unprecedented in the history of CBI,” he added.

Stating that the development will leave its “impact”, Dutta asked, “With allegations of corruption against each other by the top two of the organisation, how can officers carry out anti-corruption work?”

Express Editorial | The government’s moves against the CBI, in the dark, have brought a challenge to the door of the Supreme Court

Former Delhi Police commissioner Neeraj Kumar, who is from the same batch and cadre as Verma, said the Centre should have acted earlier to douse the flames. “Credibility of an organisation is built over years, and in what is going on within CBI, you can finish that (credibility) overnight. It will impact the morale of officers working in CBI,” he said.

Kumar, who headed the CBI SIT that probed the 1993 Bombay blasts, said, “The feud between director and special director started soon after Verma joined CBI in January 2017. The government could have saved the Bureau’s ignominy had it acted in time. This may have an impact on high-profile corruption cases under investigation.”

Another former director P C Sharma, however, said the CBI has been through such situations earlier and will bounce back. He told The Indian Express, “All you need is a good leader, and the agency’s credibility and morale can be restored. The Bureau has seen several such topsy-turvy situation (earlier) and managed to come out.”

About Verma being sent on leave against his wishes, Sharma said, “He has been on leave, not removed.”

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