The decision to remove Alok Verma from the post of CBI Director on Thursday by the high-power Selection Committee hinged ostensibly on the inquiry report prepared by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC). A close scrutiny of the 53-page report shows that the report was either ambivalent about, or dismissive of, most of the 10 allegations made by then CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana against his erstwhile boss, Verma.
The Sunday Express has accessed the report, which completely dismissed three allegations made by Asthana against Verma, was silent on one allegation, could not look into another due to paucity of time, while one had one part dismissed while it said the other “part of the allegation requires further investigation”. In one allegation, the report came to a finding that “disciplinary and other actions” were needed for one part while dismissing the other part as “not substantiated”.
Only one allegation was found as “substantiated” by the CVC report, which also asked the Supreme Court to order a criminal investigation in another, and asked for a de novo (from the beginning) investigation by another branch of the CBI into a third charge.
The report, which was signed on the final page by Central Vigilance Commissioner K V Chowdary and the two vigilance commissioners on November 10, was submitted to the Supreme Court on November 12, after the stipulated time, earning it the ire of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. A separate two-page report was submitted by Justice A K Patnaik, the retired Supreme Court judge supervising the CVC inquiry against Verma — also signed on November 10 — where he stated, “it is clear that the findings recorded by the CVC in the report are not my findings”.
Among the allegations outrightly dismissed by the CVC report was a very serious charge by Asthana involving India’s top intelligence agencies. He had alleged that Verma had not acted against Sandeep Jajodia, an accused in the coal scam case despite specific inputs from intelligence agencies. But the CVC report said that both the IB Director and Secretary, R&AW, “denied that they shared any intelligence inputs regarding the above persons obtaining citizenship of St. Kitts surreptitiously, with the Director, CBI”.
The CVC also dismissed two other allegations by Asthana, one about Verma helping cattle smugglers in West Bengal and another about the transfer of a Special Information Report related to a Joint Director of the CBI. On another allegation, about the transfer of a bank fraud case related to the same official, the report noted that “these allegations were not substantiated” by the CBI. However, the charge is not mentioned as having been “not substantiated” in the CVC’s findings.
The most serious among Asthana’s corruption allegations against Verma was that he had influenced the CBI investigation in the case against meat exporter Moin Qureshi, by taking a bribe of Rs 2 crore. The CVC report dealt with the matter over 33 paragraphs, categorically noting, “There is, however, no direct evidence on the allegation of payment of bribe of Rs 2 crore to Shri Alok Kumar Verma by Shri Satish Sana.”
Interestingly, what the CVC considers as crucial inputs in this case came from telephone intercepts carried out within India by R&AW. These were provided to the CVC on November 6, 10 days after the Supreme Court had ordered an inquiry, seemingly on its own. Significantly, senior R&AW official Samant Kumar Goyal was mentioned in the FIR filed in this case by the CBI in October.
The CVC report referred to circumstantial evidence in the case and asked for a “thorough criminal investigation”. However, the suspicions raised by the CVC as circumstantial evidence against Verma were dismissed by the Delhi High Court on January 11, when it dismissed Asthana’s appeal to stop investigations against him.
In another allegation of “smuggling of gold at IGI airport, New Delhi”, the report notes that “on perusal of the entire record it is clear that no person has named Shri Alok Verma as responsible for facilitation of the smuggler”. It also notes that Verma ordered systemic improvement, but surprisingly comes to a finding that “the allegation is partially substantiated in as much as Shri Verma as CP Delhi did not take Vigilance Action against Shri Raj Kumar ACP in spite of noting a grave misconduct”.
The only allegation which is stated by the CVC report as “substantiated” is regarding two senior IPS officers recommended to be inducted into the CBI by Verma. The report concludes that “the above explanation of Shri Alok Kumar Verma does not seem to be convincing” and concludes, “Thus the allegations that he tried to induct ‘tainted’ officers in the CBI stands proved.”
Incidentally, both the IPS officers have been empanelled in Joint Secretary rank by the government and are holding important posts in the Delhi Police and Uttar Pradesh Police.
While the CVC report dismissed one allegation of undue interference by Verma in CBI cases against Enforcement Directorate officials, in another allegation, it arrived at a finding that “the allegations relating to rebuke for conducting search and abrupt transfer of case are not denied and thus stand established” even though the case was handed over to AC HQrs Zone, New Delhi. This came even after it had earlier noted that “the available inputs as of now are not adequate to give any finding”.
In the IRCTC case, the CVC report dismissed the allegation that Verma tried to call off a search at Patna, but came to a finding that he “deliberately excluded the name of Shri Rakesh Saxena, Director IRCTC, from the FIR”. The report notes that “the DIG has denied his visit to the Chamber of Director, CBI” for a crucial meeting alleged by Asthana but it still banks on that supposed meeting to uphold the allegation. In its findings, the report does not mention the fact that prosecution was launched against Saxena for “criminal misconduct and prosecution” after “following all the relevant procedures and approvals” which were given by Verma.
On the allegations of huge illegal gratification in an ongoing preliminary inquiry against land acquisition in Haryana, the CVC report notes that “due to paucity of time this allegation could not be looked into except the perusal of file”.