New Delhi Correspondent
A high-powered committee headed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday night removed the chief of a federal probe agency, two days after the Supreme Court reinstated him in the post.
Alok Verma was shunted out as the Central Bureau of Investigation Director after a marathon meeting of a high-powered selection committee led by Modi late on Thursday evening, officials said. The CBI deals mostly with cases of corruption in high public places.
Verma, a 1979-batch Indian Police Service officer, has been removed from the high-profile post on charges of corruption and dereliction of duty making him the first chief in the history of the agency to face such action, they said.
There were eight counts of charges against Verma in the federal Vigilance Commission report presented before the high-powered committee also comprising Leader of the opposition Congress party Mallikarjun Kharge and Justice A K Sikri, appointed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi as his nominee.The decision for the removal was taken by a majority opinion with Kharge opposing the move, the officials said.
Hours after he was removed as chief of the CBI, Verma broke his silence with a cryptic note, blaming one person who was inimical to him. He said he was transferred on the basis of false, unsubstantiated and frivolous allegations made by only one person, who was trying to harm him.
The removal of Verma came barely a couple of days after he was reinstated as the chief of the country’s top investigating agency by the Supreme Court.
Kharge questioned how Verma could be removed without a hearing and argued that he should be restored to ensure independence and neutrality of CBI.
Contending that the CVC report lacked substantial findings against Verma, Kharge said his tenure should be extended as he lost 77 days after being illegally’ transferred.
Verma and his Deputy in the CBI Rakesh Asthana were suspended and transferred in October last year as they went public with trading charges of serious corruption and interference against each other, in a major blow to the agency’ s image and credibility. The feud within the CBI assumed a political colour when the Congress backed Verma
The spat in the CBI had reached the top court which on Tuesday ordered the reinstatement of Verma but barred him from taking any major policy decision until the end of the probe against him.
An official statement said Verma has been shifted to the post of Director General if Fire Services.