A fortnight after he was divested of all responsibilities and sent on leave by the government along with Special Director Rakesh Asthana with whom he had been at loggerheads, CBI Director Alok Verma appeared before the Central Vigilance Commission Thursday which is probing allegations levelled against him by Asthana.
But the meeting of the enquiry committee to hear Verma was postponed to Friday due to the non-availability of one of the Vigilance Commissioners. CVC sources told The Indian Express that a notice was served on Verma Wednesday to appear for the enquiry at Satarkata Bhawan the next day.
Justice (retd) A K Patnaik, who was asked by the Supreme Court to oversee the probe, Central Vigilance Commissioner K V Chowdary and Vigilance Commissioner Sharad Kumar were present for the enquiry but Vigilance Commissioner T M Bhasin was not available due to a personal commitment. It was then decided to postpone the meeting of the enquiry committee to Friday, sources said.
The enquiry report, approved by Justice Patnaik, has to be submitted to the Supreme Court for the next hearing of petitions by Verma and NGO Common Cause on Monday.
According to sources, Verma appeared without any lawyer for the enquiry. Earlier this week, he had submitted his replies to a questionnaire from the CVC for the enquiry.
The enquiry, as stated in the CVC order of October 23 which led to Verma being divested of all responsibilities by the government, pertains to allegations made against him by Asthana.
Hyderabad businessman Sathish Babu Sana, a key player in the tussle between Verma and Asthana which split the CBI down the middle, also appeared Thursday before the CVC. He was examined for the third time in connection with his earlier statements in the case involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi and Asthana. Sana had alleged that he was sent word, on Asthana’s behalf, to pay Rs 3 crore to clear his name in the CBI probe — Sana became the complainant in the CBI FIR against Asthana.
In an August 24 representation to Cabinet Secretary Pradeep Kumar Sinha, Asthana alleged that Sana was an accused in the case against Qureshi and, to save himself from CBI action, had paid a bribe of Rs 2 crore to Verma. On August 31, the Cabinet Secretary sent the representation to CVC for verification.
On Asthana’s complaint, the CVC had sought a reply from Verma and had summoned him.
Following the government order stripping him of all responsibilities, Verma and NGO Common Cause moved separate petitions in the Supreme Court, challenging the government decision. The Supreme Court ordered the CVC to complete its ongoing inquiry against Verma in two weeks.
In his written replies, Verma is learnt to have denied the charge that he tried to stop a raid against Bihar leader Lalu Prasad in the IRCTC case — the CBI alleged that two IRCTC hotels were leased in violation of norms when Prasad was Minister of Railways.
Asthana alleged that Verma tried to stall raids on the premises of Prasad in April this year and that a CBI Joint Director’s departure was delayed because Verma did not give him permission to travel to Patna. Verma, it is learnt, pointed out that Lalu was chargesheeted with his approval.
On the allegations in the Moin Qureshi bribery case, Verma said Sana was a witness in the Qureshi case and had been cooperating with investigators. He, however, conveyed that he had seen and approved the proposal for a lookout circular against Sana on May 21, based on which the businessman was detained on October 22, sources said.